On the Town -- Every generation, it's the same: We send young people off to fight in hostile lands, then bring them back to civilization for short respites so they can hit a big city and release some of that "I ain't dead yet!" tension. The same was true back in 1944, when folks back home were exhausted by four years of warfare and hungry for a frolic at the theater. The perfect answer was delivered by On the Town. In Beck Center's version of this challenging show, the many bright spots are dimmed by a strangely enervating pace, slipshod set design, and thin musical palette. The slim story is constructed around three sailors -- Gabey, Chip, and Ozzie -- who hit the pier at 6 a.m. with one full day in New York to themselves. It's all intended to be a frivolous romp, but many of the jokes either haven't aged well or aren't delivered with the proper crispness and snap. As for the music, it's a bear to play and sing. Beck Center's 13-member orchestra is maybe a third the size it needs to be to do justice to Leonard Bernstein's score, and it spins out a few times. Through April 10 at Beck Center, 17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-521-2540. -- Howey
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