Friday, March 24, 2023
Show TE Archives:
Desperate Measures - award winning, crowd pleasing, laugh out loud musical reopens at New World Stages

At the Wednesday evening performance that I attended (10/25/17) James Morgan (Artistic Director of The York Theatre Company) in his opening remarks in his own inimitable style announced that this already extended production of “Desperate Measures” – a rowdy, tuneful and somewhat sentimental mixture of the Bard and the Old West - will be extended for at least another month (through November 26th) due to popular demand and raves from the critics - “Even the Times gave us a good review!”

Very loosely based on Shakespeare’s “problem comedy” MEASURE FOR MEASURE Peter Kellogg (Book & Lyrics) and David Friedman (Music) have found a fresh and unique voice set in late 1800’s Arizona – land of cacti, sheriffs, corrupt politicians, nuns, banjos, loose women and loose morals.

Along with director Bill Castellino (who was seen still taking notes to tighten the production) have concocted a clever, calculated crowd pleaser with a little bit of everything to make just about everyone happy or at the very least be entertained.

There’s Nietzsche espoused by a drunken priest (Gary Marachek) for the high brows and a saloon gal strip tease (Bella Rose – a broad broad - Lauren Molina) for those brows a bit lower.

A marriage of the Bard and the bawdy. Very pleasant tunes – from heartfelt ballads to up-tempo songs that set your feet a tappin’ and dialogue that has rhythm and rhyme that elevates the tone of the production immensely. It works beautifully enacted by a terrific cast of six full throttled vocalists.

The dim witted but charming Johnny Blood (Conor Ryan) is in jail waiting to be hanged for a crime that he committed in self-defense – to protect his love, Bella Rose (Lauren Molina). His sister Susanna (Emma Degerstedt) is days away from officially becoming Sister Mary Jo.

The stalwart Sheriff Martin Green (a tall, lanky and handsome Peter Saide) comes up with a plot to save Johnny Blood from the noose that involves his sister (whom Sheriff Green has more than an eye for) approaching the cruel and lecherous Governor von Richterhenkenpflichtgetruber (Nick Wyman with a heavy German accent; enjoying every lecherous moment to the hilt and more) to grant Johnny a pardon.

Aye. There’s the rub. The Governor will grant the pardon IF would-be in a few days Sister Mary Jo sleeps with him – losing her chastity but gaining her brother’s freedom. Tit for tat so to speak.

Clever Sheriff Green gets Bella Rose to pull the old Shakespearean switcheroo in the dark bedroom of the Governor. All’s well and good but we are unintentionally reminded of all that horrifying alleged lewd behavior of Harvey Weinstein.

But this is tame musical comedy land and we soon move on to further amusing complications in Act II ending with a Lucy and Harpo sight gag and a double wedding that leads to the off into the sunset uplifting finale.

James Morgan has designed another fine set with clever sign posts. Costumes by Nicole Wee are character perfect. The music direction and orchestrations by David Hancock Turner enhance the lively and almost retro score. How refreshing to hear melodies and lyrics that fall wonderfully on the ear – caressing rather than bombarding.

If music be the food of love – play on! And on. And on. 2 hour 15 minutes 1 intermission



Photo: Carol Rosegg

Visit for additional photos