Sixth in a series of Broadway reports
NEW YORK — “Some Like It Hot” is a 2023 musical remake of the popular 1959 Billy Wilder comedy with modern shenanigans and old-world charm.
If you adore vintage choreography, in the spirit of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, trotting non-stop all over the dance floor, and men cavorting in dresses and tresses because they witnessed gangland murders and need disguises to remain safe, then “Some Like It Hot” is your dance ticket, and it’s now playing at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway.
The ensemble, with Tony winner J. Harrison Ghee, as Jerry/Daphne, center right.
For me, “Some Like It Hot” is the best show now, with its special dynamics of motion, music, and manic energy.
It was the most-nominated Tony show this past June — 13 noms and four wins including J. Harrison’s Ghee’s historic Leading Actor in a Musical award, Best Choreography for Casey Nicholaw, Best Original Score for Charlie Rosen and Bryan Carter, and Best Costume Design for Gregg Barnes).
Scenic Designer Scott Pask didn’t win, but should have earned a Tony, too, since he created a lifelike train car swiftly rolling from right to left in one scene. You practically felt the swoosh of the car passing by.
The cast, too, is choo-choo active, running in and out of closed doors and creating momentum of the rare kind.
Joe/Josephine and Jerry/Daphne become members of a traveling all-girl jazz band, led by Sweet Sue, portrayed by NaTasha Yvette Williams, with Sugar, the lead singer played by Adrianna Hicks (Marilyn Monroe was in the movie), during Prohibition-era times in Chicago and San Diego.
Adrianna Hicks, as Sugar, and Christian Borle, as Joe/Josephine.
The plot includes dizzying rushes in and out of doors, and non-stop prancing and dancing requiring speed and good timing, typical of the slam-dunk maniacal musical comedies of the past. One extreme and unexpected treat comes in a brisk flash of movement – Pask’s roaring train car, zooming across the stage. If you blinked, you’d have missed it. It was that fast.
The show boasts a host of “wow” moments. Ghee’s “You Coulda Knocked Me Over With a Feather” is a revelation – a confirmation that he realizes he is proudly a she and the song and sentiment are exquisitely honest.
And there’s charm and credibility with Osgood, the root beer dude played by Kevin Del Aguilar, who gets the hots for Daphne and why not? He/she is a beaut!
Further, Borle and Hicks manage to tap-tap-tap and sing their hearts out in a joyous staircase number, “Dance the World Away.”
One curiosity, and this was the first time I’ve seen this happen in a show. “Some Like It Hot,” the title tune, closed Act 1, with vocalists Hicks (as Sugar), Williams (as Sue) and Daphne (as Ghee) leading the ensemble to bring down the curtain. As the intermission ended, before the start of Act 2, it was announced that Hicks (Sugar) would be replaced by her understudy, TyNia Rene Brandon , no reason provided …
And that’s Show Biz. …
‘Some Like It Hot’
“Some Like It Hot” is a musical based on the Billy Wilder movie with the same name, with book by Matthew Lopez and Amber Ruffin, music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaman, directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw
Playing at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway