note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Carl A. Rossi
Peter A. Carey
Neil A. Casey
Richard Rodgers once said that he never cast homosexuals in his musicals; what the late Howard Crabtree and Mark Waldrop have done with his Dream Curly in their celebrated revue WHEN PIGS FLY would have him spinning en pointe: this string of “gay” numbers and turns (some, fabulous; some, less so) has returned to kick off the Lyric Stage’s 30th anniversary season, featuring four members from the 1999 Lyric production along with Mr. Crabtree’s original costume designs which must be seen to be believed (in his program notes, Artistic Director Spiro Veloudos mentions there have been more public demands for PIGS’ return than any other show in Lyric history).
In adapting Rob Ruggerio’s original staging and choreography, Ilyse Robbins has come up with good, snappy fluff though time has inevitably softened PIGS’s cheekiness; even the “Patriotic Finale” (a “We’re-Here-We’re-Queer” sort of anthem) never, ever threatens --- judging by the audience’s nervous laughter, though, you’d think we’re in for a walk on the Wild Side. Fear not: PIGS is PIGS, as the saying goes.
Ms. Robbins’ ensemble is a friendly, frisky one --- five wriggling puppies dropped into our laps --- though Peter A. Carey seems reluctant to get in touch with his inner girl and falls back on nancy mannerisms instead (he’s an old-time vaudevillian, not a Camp). Brian Robinson, blessed with one of the best singing voices in town, continues to stop each Lyric show in which he appears (here, it’s the sassy, sexy “Bigger is Better”). The undisputed delight of the evening, though, is Neil A. Casey. Now considerably slimmer, Mr. Casey shyly but primly dominates as the appointed pill of the troupe; his entrance as a beloved New York icon is priceless --- even touching, in these post-9/11 times.