Five Reasons Why Some Like it Hot is Worth Revisiting
By: Iris Wiener
April 15, 2023: The 1959 hit film that won Marilyn Monroe a Golden Globe award is now a theatrical award favorite in its own right, as it is boasting nominations for Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards, amongst others; however, this is an adaptation of the highest form. Two Prohibition-era jazz musicians (Christian Borle and J. Harrison Ghee) in Chicago witness a mob hit and go into hiding disguising themselves as members of a female-band. As they run for their lives, they fall under the spell of the band’s singer, Sugar (Adrianna Hicks). The show is as dynamic as it is a true Broadway spectacle. Here are five reasons why its temperature is still sizzling:
1. Matthew Lopez (the Tony-winning writer behind The Inheritance) and Amber Ruffin’s bookcontemporizes the musical (which was previously adapted for the stage as the 1972 musical Sugar) without removing its period-shine. The show does not simply tell the overdone tale of two men in dresses with a big reveal in the climactic ending. Joe/Josephine (Borle) still entices Sugar with his womanly affectations; however, Jerry (Ghee) becomes Daphne and realizes that he actually feels more comfortable as a woman. Sugar also has more layers as Monroe’s iconic role is now in the hands of Hicks, a stellar Black performer; her longings for a career in music are all the more visceral because of her race.
2. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the Tony-Award winning powerhouses behind Hairspray, embrace the humor and character of the story through their score and lyrics, with every number memorable and heartfelt. Hot is a rare gem of a show, a big-budget Broadway production that is equally entertaining, enjoyable and important.
3. There is no tapping on Broadway that parallels that of Casey Nicholaw’s sensational choreography. Coupled with his smart direction, Nicholaw (the genius behind The Prom, Aladdin and The Book of Mormon) balances revelatory moments with jaw-dropping numbers that demonstrate an epic feat of skill and thoughtfulness. They are so colorfully epic that they look cinematic in their execution.
4. Scott Pask’s elaborate, deco sets are astonishing in their scope, detail and versatility. The giant train is sweeping, while the shimmering night club and a moving set of doors makes for a finale that will quickly become iconic in the Broadway musical canon.
5. The supporting cast in Hot is sensational, a bona fide group of scene-stealers. Tony-nominated NaTasha Yvette Williams’ Sweet Sue is a band leader with all of the sass and smarm that it takes to steal a show. Her one liners are delectable: “Settle down! I just heard from the doctor and I tested negative for patience.” Kevin Del Aguila, who is sharing the stage once again with Borle after the two were magnetically funny in Peter and the Starcatcher, delivers some of Hot’s best surprises as Osgood, a soda pop icon who fancies Daphne. Del Aguila’s penchant for physical comedy and warmth is at the soul of Hot.
Photography: Marc J. Franklin