Running to catch “On The Town” felt like an adventure equivalent to catching the right train on time in New York City. I got there and was instantly transported. From the skyscrapers on set to the tunes perfectly played by the John J. Cali School of Music, “On The Town” takes you back to New York City during World War II, where three American Navy men find romance during their 24 hours on shore.
Senior musical theatre major Maggie Likcani, who assisted in choreographing “On The Town,” further described the premise of the show and how she felt about those that participated in its creation.
“It’s about these three Navy men who are in New York for 24 hours and one of the guys, Gabey, is looking for this girl named Ivy Smith that he saw in the subway,” Likcani said. “The other two [Chip and Ozzie] end up trying to help him find Ivy Smith but find Hildy and Claire instead. I’m so proud of everyone, and I love this theater.”
In the production’s program, director Ashley Rodbro noted what she hopes the audience would walk away with after watching.
“Whether you’ve seen multiple productions of ‘On The Town’ or this is your first time, I hope you’ll leave inspired by the spark of connection, the joy and the sense of play that radiate from the stage,” Rodbro said.
I might sound like a broken record when I say I am always amazed by my fellow Red Hawks whenever I see a performance on campus and always go into the theatre knowing they are all so phenomenally talented. By this, I mean the cast, crew and orchestra, who through this production, gave audience members the feeling of being on Broadway.
It’s difficult to narrow down the show to specific moments. Still, one moment I find myself replaying is where one character, Chip, played by senior musical theatre major Joey Cooper, fumbled on stage while on a phone call. I thought the moment would only last for a minute or two but it was funny to think that, at any moment, the other cast members would come in to interrupt it all – only for Chip to fall again.
The entire theatre was laughing along as the phone wire that was wrapped around his leg led to Chip falling, only for the actor to do a perfect split. A leg on the stand holding the phone might have broken off, but it only added to the moment.
In one of the musical numbers, called “Times Square Ballet,” cast members in the background embodied the landmarks that make New York her beautiful self. On one of the risers near the back of the stage, while the characters were exploring New York, “Central Park” walked in the center of the riser and held up a sign. The actress was dressed head to toe in leaves, with a sign near her center saying “Central Park.” Soon after followed Lady Liberty, crown and all. I loved this use of the space to keep the stage filled with the actors who were sightseeing because it was a great way to show the immense size of New York.
One of the prop assistants, Maddie Cortese, a junior bachelor of fine arts in theatre, said she “loved seeing the props [she] built come to life on stage.”
“Watching the [actors] in rehearsal using stand-in props and rehearsal cubes then getting to see the transition into actual props that I helped make and pull was awesome,” Cortese said.
After the show, the audience was non-stop buzzing with energy. The community director for Machuga Heights, Ruqaiyah Lash, and the assistant community director, Dakota Scavella, spoke about how they showed up to support fellow Residence Hall staff members. Sophomore theatre studies major Ashleigh Been, who is a service assistant, was the assistant stage manager, and resident assistants Carlita Vinciguerra, a sophomore musical theatre major, and Christian Collazo, a junior musical theatre major, were part of the ensemble.
“It was amazing,” Scavella said. “Our students are so talented. Every show we’ve attended has had students in them. If you’re not into theatre or into the show, this is perfect to see.”
“’On the Town’ was a phenomenal display of the talent and caliber of students that we have here at Montclair State,” Lash said. “From the opening song to the closing number, you are mesmerized and engulfed. This was one of my favorite shows. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see our students in action, you are truly missing out.”