Will Friedwald previews Musicals Tonight presents Bells Are Ringing - New York City Article

Musicals Tonight presents Bells Are Ringing

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Musicals Tonight presents Bells Are Ringing

Published Oct 25, 2017
Updated Oct 30, 2017

Bells Are Ringing, one of the all-time classic musical comedies (by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Jules Styne), was most recently revived in a beautiful concert production by City Center Encores in 2010. (And, about a decade before that, in a full scale Broadway revival starring Faith Prince in 2001.) Yet I’m looking forward to this more intimate staging at Musicals tonight possibly even more, for one good reason. The Encores! version starred Kelli O’Hara, a marvelous leading lady with a miraculous soprano, but not a notable comedienne. Contrastingly, the central role in the current production - Ella Peterson, a telephone operator who gets entangled in the personal lives of her clients - is essayed by a relative newcomer with the unlikely name of Oakley Boycott. Ms. Boycott is a genuine eccentric and a true theatrical character: she’s worked as a model, but unlike most of her sisters in the trade, she has anything but a typical face, in fact, it’s the kind of punim that you can’t forget. She can also sing, dance, and act, but it’s her unique ability to be both funny and pretty - not to mention highly sympathetic - that stands her in good stead as a potentially worthy heiress to the legacy of Judy Holliday, who created the role 60 years ago. In an age when most younger Broadway hopefuls are willfully interchangeable, Ms. Boycott is one-of-a-kind.

Musicals Tonight presents Bells Are Ringing
Theater Row - The Lion Theater
410 West 42nd St
Through Sunday (October 29)

For tickets and more information, click here.

Photo courtesy David Rosen

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Author: Will Friedwald
Photography by: STEPHEN SOROKOFF

Author: Will Friedwald

Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.

New Books:

THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP VOCAL ALBUMS (Pantheon Books / Random House, November 2017)