Theatre Review: “Finian’s Rainbow” @ St. James Theatre, Closing Night, 01/17/10

Broadway Cast Poster

Magnificent, unforgettable and unbelievable are all words that I would describe Finian’s Rainbow’s closing night. I think it was purely fate (and a little luck of the rainbow) that I ended up with a premium $250.00 ticket, sitting in Row E, #1.

For the last four months, I’ve had my ticket to see A Little Night Music on the 17th. When I found out that Finian’s Rainbow was closing on the same day, I was totally bummed but still really stoked to see A Little Night Music. A few hours before curtain I checked to see if A Little Night Music had any tickets left because my brother was in the city for the day and I really wanted him to see the show with me, but they were completely sold-out. I told him that he had to go see Finian’s Rainbow’s closing night instead. We weren’t sure if they had any tickets available but we walked the four blocks (in the pouring rain) and got to the box office about an hour before showtime. As I sat there waiting for him Cheyenne Jackson, Kate Baldwin and Christopher Fitzgerald all walked by me, heading to the stage door. I wished them all a “Break-a-leg!” as they passed by. (To be honest, I was a little star-struck!) My brother went up to the box office and bought a front-row student rush ticket for $27.00. (The last one!) I didn’t even think they would have any tickets left, but he came back showing it off. I was so ecstatic that he scored a front-row ticket for closing night and it was smack dab in the center.

He then told me, “Um… I don’t really want to go though.”

“What?” I said in disbelief.

“Yeah, I really need to head home before Sunday’s rush hour traffic. You should go instead. You are the one that really wants to see it,” he explained.

“But I’ve seen it.”

“So? I can tell you really want to see it. Sell your A Little Night Music ticket and see Finian’s Rainbow,” he said.

Brilliant idea. With 40 minutes till curtain, I ran up to A Little Night Music, again in the pouring rain, and quickly sold my ticket. And then I ran back to the St. James Theatre. (I was pretty wet by this point!) But the best part of the story is that while my brother and I were having this conversation, an older gentleman approached me and asked me to switch my ticket with him for fifty dollars. I was a bit of a skeptic and obviously didn’t want to give up my front-row ticket I scored. He assured me that his ticket was incredible. And it was: Row E, #1. I ended up finding out that it was his 36th time seeing the production and he wanted the best seat in the house for closing night. And I had it… so a quick exchange and that’s where I landed. Fate? Luck? Maybe a bit of both.

I sat in my premium seat soaking up every song, lyric and movement on that stage. As the first note was played by the incredible sumptuous orchestra I had goose-bumps. And those goose-bumps didn’t fade until about 10 minutes after I left the theatre. I don’t think I’ve ever had such an experience in theatre before. It was pure magic. Everyone was giving it their all and the energy in the audience was brimming with excitement and anticipation.

I first saw this production, back in October, on it’s third night of previews in the balcony. I was already in love with this production but after three months of maturing, Finian’s Rainbow turned into something extraordinary. Everything about this show is special, from Terri White’s unforgettable story about her road back to Broadway from homelessness to the fact it’s the first ever Broadway revival of Finian’s Rainbow. With an updated script and orchestrations, Finian’s Rainbow is so much more accessible. It’s relatable, funny, timely and overall a great story about love, hope and dreams of an Irish father and daughter finding a new life in America. And you can’t forget the truly classic songs like “Old Devil Moon” and “Look to the Rainbow.”

Finian McLonergan’s (Jim Norton) charm helped convince his daughter, the ever beautiful Sharon McLonergan (Kate Baldwin), to fall in love with Woody Mahoney (Cheyenne Jackson). The comedic leprechaun, Og (Christopher Fitgerald), always had the best lyrics, “My heart feels so sugar-candish…”. I was mesmerized by the beautiful expressive dancing by Susan Mahoney (Alina Faye) and Dottie’s (Terri White) rendition of “Necessity” brought the house down in the middle of Act I. There was an instant standing ovation after her song. (I’m getting chills just thinking about it!) You could see White’s gratitude in her eyes as she teared up waiting for the audience to stop applauding. That is a moment I’ll never forget. Song after song, scene after scene, it just kept getting better and better. It ended with a beautiful rainbow as they sung, “How are Things in Glocca Morra?” The audience leapt to their feet, tears in their eyes and gave a rousing standing ovation unlike any standing ovation I’ve ever seen in theatre. What a special show, night and cast.

It’s truly a travesty that this show closed so early, but it’s a gift that will never be forgotten. The magic of the rainbow is far but over.

Listen to a few songs from the New Cast Recording of Finian’s Rainbow.

“Old Devil Moon” by lyricist Yip Harburg as heard on the Irish Repertory Theatre Cast Recording

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