Broadway Review: A Cappella Musical ‘In Transit’
Subways are for singing, at least in the world of “In Transit,” the charming a cappella musical of metropolitan life that’s rapturously harmonious, even when the times aren’t. The likable, lightweight tuner, which had a run in 2010 at 59E59 — and an even earlier version as “Along the Way” at 2003’s New York Fringe Festival — evokes musicals and revues that celebrate the buzz of being young, hopeful and ever-striving in New York. Okay, so the storylines go back to the days when you still used tokens. But what gives “In Transit” its new swipe is what’s not there — the orchestra — and what is — glorious, pitch-perfect voices, set to Deke Sharon’s rich and expressive arrangements.
It’s all backed by the percussive, beat-box talents of Chesney Snow, who plays a zen-like subway performer named Boxman (Steven “HeaveN” Cantor in alternate performances). Boxman is the show’s underground guide to the musical’s other characters, who are stuck in life while on the move, and who often find themselves “in this limbo life between stations.” Donyale Werle’s witty subway platform of a set is an ideal fit for the Circle in the Square configuration, with the audience sitting on either side of its “tracks.” Donald Holder’s lighting and Ken Travis’ sound designs also add to the subterranean ambiance. Director Kathleen Marshall, who also choreographs, keeps things fluid, energetic and precise.
A quartet of writers, who were in an a cappella group years ago, wrote the book and penned the music and lyrics — after a concept credited to the quartet, plus two others. Despite the crowd, no one is breaking any new ground here, beyond the a cappella idea.