The Sting, a new musical at Paper Mill Playhouse, transports you to Depression-era Chicago, where jazz reigns, the stakes are high, and the dice are always loaded. And it does it in the most entertaining way.
Based on the 1973 Academy Award-winning film, The Sting, the musical tells the tale of a pair of con men, small town grifter Johnny Hooker (played by J. Harrison Ghee) and big-time hustler Henry Gondorff (played by Harry Connick, Jr.), who plot to bring down the city’s most corrupt racketeer, Doyle Lonnegan (played by Tom Hewitt).
Harry Connick Jr. was made for this role which incorporates his exceptional musical talents, his smooth as butter voice, and his lovable comedic chops. Longtime Connick fans, like myself, will be pleased as punch that Connick composed four of the songs and has a few solo numbers in which he shines. His voice is so good live, I found myself closing my eyes to let his crisp, smooth tone fill my senses. If his singing and piano playing isn’t enough to impress, it turns out he’s a pretty good hoofer too.
Connick truly is the standout, but he, along with very talented J. Harrison Ghee, are supported by a strong cast: Peter Benson as The Erie Kid, Janet Dacal as Loretta, Christopher Gurr as J.J. Singleton, Tom Hewitt as Doyle Lonnegan, Richard Kline (pop culture note: Larry on Three’s Company) as Kid Twist, Kevyn Morrow as Luther, Kate Shindle as Billie, and Robert Wuhl as Snyder.
A major highlight of The Sting are the tap dance numbers, thanks to the talents of Tony-winning choreographer Warren Carlyle. Combine them with gorgeous period costumes and clever stage sets, and this show deserves to be Broadway bound.
The Sting runs for a limited engagement through Sunday, April 29, 2018. If you can score tickets, I highly suggest that you do. Or, get them as soon as the show makes it to Broadway.
Paper Mill Playhouse
22 Brookside Drive
Millburn, NJ 07041
Parking at the theater ($9, cash only)
Where to Eat
There are many choices both near (right in the same building) and a short drive away to make your family theater night even more special. Here are a few choices:
- The Carriage House Restaurant: Located right at Paper Mill Playhouse, The Carriage House offers seasonal American cuisine and pre-theater price fixed menus for lunch and, dinner and has kids’ menus.
- Basilico: Very good Italian food with a nice kids’ menu offering much more than your standard chicken fingers.
- Charlie Brown’s: A good chain restaurant offering affordable, kid-friendly meals.