The great new Broadway revival of Finian's Rainbow kept reminding me of the Roundabout's The Pajama Game revival of a few years back: Not just for the score's similarly odd mix of faux-bumpkin Americorn and jazz-standard-ready showtunes, or for both books' surprisingly lefty bent, but because the flawless, idiosyncratic cast, as in Pajama Game, handily destroys the notion that today's performers just can't do the old Broadway shows justice anymore. Put Cheyenne Jackson or Chris Fitzgerald in a wayback machine, and I think it's inarguable they'd have given John Raitt or Phil Silvers a run for their money.
Whether the old shows are worth the candle is another matter; in the case of Pajama Game, I was less than convinced, while the new South Pacific, for instance, makes a beautiful, irrefutable case for its place in the canon. I guess I'd situate Finian's Rainbow's revival-worthiness somewhere uneasily between those two: Yip Harburg's impish lyrics and flakily plotted but sneakily moving book, hitched to Burton Lane's competent, crafty, occasionally bold music (check the changes in the last eight of "That Old Devil Moon"), and delivered as they are here by this brilliant cast--it's a curious artifact, no question, but ultimately it's as irresistible a package as this inimitably Harburgian lyric:
We could be oh, so bride and groomish
Skies could be so bluish blue
Life could be so love in bloomish
If my ishes could come true