Marry Harry: When Little Harry Met Sherri.
The set that greets you when you enter the sweet little York Theatre, playfully designed by James Morgan, tells you almost everything you need to know about the charmingly silly slice of romantic musical comedy, Marry Harry. What I didn’t expect was the three person chorus to appear looking like they stepped out of an off Broadway re-creation of Fosse’s Chicago (Ben Chavez, Jesse Manocherian, Claire Saunders). Clad in the black garb similar to the limber dancers that populate that other very different kind of show, the three well synchronized performers bid us welcome to the cartoonish tale of a man and a woman, both almost 30 years old, on a path forward, who are trying hard to gain some control over their future. We are told from the get-go basically that these two are going to collide in some sort of meet-cute and fall for each other. That’s a certainty. The only thing we are left to wonder about is the details.
The first song ‘A New Day #1‘ is charming and catchy (lyrics: Michael Biello; music: Dan Martin; book: Jennifer Robbins), as many of these numbers are. Once you get past the out of place black dress of the chorus (costumes: Tyler M. Holland), they become quite a fun and festive trio to be guided through this quirky love story. That first outfit should be reconsidered, but the remaining additions are silly and fun. This is not a realistic piece of theatre by any means. It feels like a less-believable Meg Ryan movie, (When Little Harry Meets Sherri could be the alternative title) but after a shrug and an eye roll, we happily give in to whatever silly antics these characters have in store for us. Silly and fun. Have you noticed I have used ‘silly’ a few times already, I’ll try to refrain but it will be difficult.
David Spadora as Little Harry, the adorable cook in the family Italian restaurant dreams of becoming a chef, even if it means disappointing his scatterbrained father who is naturally called Big Harry played by an all over the place big teddy bear named Lenny Wolpe. Slightly bipolar in his reactions, he is in the end, a sweet lovable man. On the other side of the road at a trendy bridal shop, is the equally appealing bride-to-be, Sherri, lovingly portrayed by Morgan Cowling, with the stereotypical controlling mother, Francine, a funny TV-sitcom ready Robin Skye, who makes a thin part, far less thin. All are given lovely moments of parent/child conflict and repair, paired with cute and simplistically connecting songs which are handled in a predictable but kind manner. Director/choreographer Bill Castellino, as he did for York’s Cagney keeps the action flowing, bypassing the awkward moments that don’t make sense or ring true on any level, quickly without giving them a chance for us to notice. The two leads also help us discard the ridiculousness and stay focused on the whirlwind romance being played out before our eyes. They manage to keep us engaged and happy out of the sheer force of their likability and solid vocal talent.
The same could be said for the whole package. Marry Harry so wants us to be engaged, pardon the pun. The plot is thin and silly, but the songs are filled with a sweet kindness that one can’t discard or hate. So would I marry Marry? No, there’s not enough there, but it was a fun charming one evening date. Not sexy enough to be a one -nighter, but for a cute chat over a coffee and biscotti? Sure thing.