Urban Cowboy
Broadhurst Theatre
235 West 44th Street, New York City

Ticket Info (212) 239-6200

Paul Kolnik

It’s not as bad as you’ve heard. The dancing is fun—energetic, acrobatic two-stepping performed by hot boys and saucy girls. The singing is fine, nothing to get excited about, but mostly pretty, especially on the new songs written by Jason Robert Brown. (The country standards, including “Could I Have This Dance?” and “Looking for Love,” are, not surprisingly, a bit hokey.) And the leads, Matt Cavenaugh (Bud, left) and Jenn Colella (Sissy, right), are both gorgeous, smiley unknowns who know how to control a stage and please an audience. But they aren’t John Travolta and Debra Winger; they have neither the charisma nor the talent to lift their show out of its morass of redneck kitsch. That is what Travolta and Winger did with the film version of Urban Cowboy, making the story of dysfuntional Houston lovers a hit in 1980. The film isn’t great, but its characters had dignity. Aaron Latham and Phillip Oesterman, who wrote the book to the musical, and Lonny Price, the director, treat these Texans with contempt. The characters’ Southern manners and Texan pride are played for laughs, for derision, and for Yankee audiences who love to feel superior.  Ted Gideonse
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