Trying to fail

By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  July 9, 2008

Good moves abound in this show, which weds virtuoso dancing and choreography (director Stroman’s) with great Brooks gags. Perhaps most impressive is the number “Little Old Lady Land” (an homage to the wanton investors who insist that Max get into their pants before he gets into their purses), in which more than a dozen identical gray-haired biddies do amazing things with walkers. Another winning moment comes during the premiere of Springtime for Hitler, when among the bedlam of Hitler chorus dancers, the Führer brightly calls out for everyone to form a swastika, and spin.

Getting their flop on the stage takes Max and Leo all over Manhattan — from Franz’s rooftop in the Village to Roger’s Upper East Side townhouse, from Leo’s old hole of a clerk’s office in lower Manhattan to Max’s office on Broadway. Robert A. Kovach’s whimsically stylized set design cleverly gives us different views and perspectives of the same New York skyline, and helps evoke the great theatrical city as both one cohesive setting and a place with lots of distinct, distinctly theatrical realms.

And through all the neighborhoods Max and Leo navigate, the play’s the thing. Brooks draws absurdities of both the theater and New York City with both mischief and affection, and MSMT’s production is impishly, lovingly true to that spirit.

The original version of this review miscredited the direction and choreography of the show at the Maine State Music Theatre. Both are by Marc Robin.

Megan Grumbling can be reached

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