This show evidently played beautifully on stage, thanks in large part to Sutton Foster’s star turn, but it’s rather insubstantial as an actual composition. The show is based on one of Julie Andrews’ weaker movies, and features a wildly unbelievable plot in the style of a Twenties musical. The basic love story, while rather flimsy and improbable, is sound, but the thin story is padded out with a an awkward subplot involving selling girls into white slavery. This subplot is not only far too dark for the rest of the show, but its villains are portrayed as Chinese ethnic stereotypes (although the stage version makes sure to make them much more _sympathetic_ ethnic stereotypes, if that helps). The jokes are hit-or-miss and often rather cheap, although the humor in the stage version is generally more effective than in the movie. Also, the score is a hodge-podge combining the songs from the original film, new songs written by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan, several interpolated twenties standards (including two songs from Victor Herbert’s Naughty Marietta), and a couple of bizarre novelty numbers, like the orchestral curio drawn from classical music, “The Nuttycracker Suite”, or a rendition of “Mammy” sung in Chinese. The result is a score that features mostly pleasant songs but nonetheless doesn’t hold together especially well. One thing that could be said in favor of the movie is that it genuinely did seem to have a Twenties flavor; here, the new songs by Tesori (which make up about half the score), while they provide her usual catchy, sophisticated tunes, feature an unmistakably post-Sondheim sound, and they break up the show’s atmosphere. Also, Scanlan’s lyrics are iffy, and loaded with anachronistic slang expressions like ‘cut the cord’. Still, the show is a sizeable improvement over the film on which it’s based, and the performers, particularly Foster and Sheryl Lee Ralph (bizarrely cast in the role played in the movie by Carol Channing), do an excellent job of selling the so-so material, so it isn’t surprising the show was a hit.