MILLBURN, NJ – You won’t want to miss the lavish, delightful production of Can Can at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn.
Cole Porter, where have you been all these years? Yes, there have been revivals of Anything Goes and Kiss Me Kate, but not the ravishing exuberance of Can Can.
Set in Paris in 1893, the musical is giddy with familiar and not-so familiar songs. And you can’t beat Porter for sharp, sassy lyrics. “I Love Paris,” “It’s All Right With Me” “Allez-vous En” are just a few of the songs that could tug at your memory or fill your heart with longing.
Director David Lee has wisely kept to the original script with, as he said, “no poaching of Cole Porter hits from other shows.” Abe Burrows wrote the book for the original production, which debuted on Broadway in 1953.
The cast is top notch. Kate Baldwin is La Mome Pistache, very much in charge, with a strong voice that allows her to belt out “Live and Let Live” and then shift to the poignant “Allex-Vous En.” She’s well matched by Jason Danieley as Aristide, the judge she loved years ago. His soaring voice makes every number seem perfect. And it’s lovely to hear those words to “It’s All Right With me” starting with “it’s the wrong time and the wrong place” …and on.
Greg Hildreth as Boris, the would-be sculptor, has just the right touch of cluelessness as he demonstrates his atrocious artwork. Megan Sikora is a fetching Claudine. Michael Kostroff brings humane understatement to the role of Jean Louis, the host at the Bal du Paradis in Monmarte.
But that first Can Can brings down the house. The ensemble of singers and dancers is superb, with acrobatic glee as they perform those high steps and build to a thrilling climax. The only slow part of the production is in Act II, when the duel between Hilaire (Michael Brerresse) and Boris goes on a little too long.
But there’s so much that‘s absolutely right in the refreshing revival, from colorful costumes by Ann Hould Ward to Michael Gilliam’s lighting and Bob Bissinger’s scenic design. Choreography by Patti Colombo and orchestration by Steve Orich add their own stellar touches.
Especially effective is a marionette number with two dancers, dressed in black and white, appearing to be pulled by strings. There’s plenty of sexual innuendo throughout and the very French, sophisticated way with amour.
The lush, lovingly restored musical will keep you entranced from start to finish. Can Can continues at the Paper Mill, 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, through Oct. 26. For tickets, call (973) 376-4343 or visit papermill.org.