Closed 2h 0m
Desperate Measures
Midtown W
87

Desperate Measures NYC Reviews and Tickets

87%
(1062 Reviews)
Positive
97%
Mixed
2%
Negative
1%
Members say
Entertaining, Funny, Clever, Delightful, Great singing

About the Show

After a hit run at the York Theatre, this madcap, wild musical, set in the Old West and inspired by Shakespeare's 'Measure for Measure,' re-opens at New World Stages for an open-ended run.

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Member Reviews (1062)

91
Delightful, Clever, Entertaining, Intelligent, Funny

See it if You like smart funny well written, well acted, clever and well sung musicals. It’s completely accessible though based on Shakespeare.

Don't see it if You’re looking for drama or a play. This is good silly fun.

88
Funny, Sharp, Touching, Good diction!, Tight

See it if you like lean musicals with good bones, a brain & a heart.

Don't see it if you prefer your musicals to have elaborate sets & lots of extras. Read more

Critic Reviews (49)

June 22nd, 2018

“Hilarious and tuneful show...Cleverly written in rhyming couplets that flow easily into song...It’s all played for silliness and director/choreographer Bill Castellino's slam-bang production, framed by designer James Morgan's sight gag-laden set, takes full advantage of a strong singing cast that also sports excellent comic chops...This reviewer would put it above any of the new musicals that opened on Broadway this past season for those seeking flat-out musical comedy fun."
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June 14th, 2018

"After a slowish start that sets up the situation, 'Desperate Measures' expertly mixes high and low comedy...Surely the direction of Castellino played a key role in the light touch maintained throughout...The show's hallmark is its good taste. By taking the premise at face value and playing it for all it's worth -- but without belaboring it in the slightest -- everyone involved has achieved exactly the kind of breezy, beguiling entertainment that should be on tap at all times."
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June 13th, 2018

“Purely fun, but as the role of art as an invitation to activism becomes more essential than ever, there is little escape to be found in a musical in which a woman considers marrying an authoritarian figure as a better solution than fending on her own...The musical isn't without its charms, most of them coming in the form of Molina, who turns in a performance of such comedic precision that comparing her to Lucille Ball feels like somewhat of an understatement."
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June 13th, 2018

"A constant smile-inducer of a musical...A tuneful, amusing, constantly surprising score...There’s virtually no end of encomia that can be poured on the cast members’ heads…Ryan has a strong voice—who doesn’t in this ensemble?—but he also is physically adept, constantly using his body for clownish punctuation…More off-hand with Susanna’s commitment to faith than Isabella is in the Shakespeare original, but that hardly matters when so much good clean fun is on tap."
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June 13th, 2018

"A rootin’, tootin’, scootin’, hootin’ Wild West musical comedy that likely will tickle those customers whose lower funny bones are within easy reach. It’s an awfully broad show for my finicky taste...Wants to be nothing more than a pleasant light entertainment that spoofs melodramatic horse operas…Cultivating these dandy performances and nimbly staging their doings with speed and good humor, Castellino has shaped a trivial, tumbleweed affair into a modestly diverting attraction."
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June 14th, 2018

"Shakespearean spoofs are almost as old as Shakespeare himself, dating back to at least the Restoration period. Although the vast majority has faded into history, there are still some real standouts like the classic musical 'Kiss Me, Kate,' which thanks largely to Cole Porter is arguably even more enjoyable than its source material, a rare feat that the relatively new musical 'Desperate Measures,' now in its second off-Broadway run, also accomplishes."
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June 13th, 2018

"In addition to the cast's sterling performances under Bill Castellino's simple yet lively direction, and James Morgan's easy moveable sets, what makes the musical work so well is Kellogg's facility with rhyming dialogue (natural and rarely forced) and one of the most tuneful scores of recent vintage."
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June 13th, 2018

"This clever and tuneful little show is better than ever on the larger stage...This cast is a wow! All inhabit their characters with impeccable comic timing and have vocal chops that do full justice to the ear-hugging songs and witty rhymed lyrics...Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who found 'Measure for Measure' to be the 'single exception to the delightfulness of Shakespeare's plays' would certainly find plenty to be delighted with in 'Desperate Measures.'"
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June 15th, 2018

"'Desperate Measures' relies on cliche and spoof to carry the evening. That said, this show has enough feel-good reserve that, by the time it wraps up, the audience is clapping to the band’s hoedown rhythms as the cast takes curtain calls...Kellogg makes the rhyming device fun without beating you over the head with it…The singing voices and the harmonies sound pure...In the market for a small, sweet, feel-good musical? 'Desperate Measures' should do the trick."
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June 13th, 2018

“Hilariously silly but fun new musical...Opens with a surprisingly smart and funny bang...With solid music direction and orchestrations by David Hancock Turner and a smartly directed and choreographed good time by Bill Castellino the musical production giddily gallops forward, taking a convoluted Shakespearian text and improving on it. I never thought I’d say that, but ‘Measure for Measure’ mixed with Mel Brooks and a melodic musical score creates one great time at the dance hall.”
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June 13th, 2018

“As bodacious and bawdy as ever...Has the ‘guts’ of ‘Measure for Measure’ with the charm and appeal of a traditional Broadway musical...This is a pleasant musical that celebrates the enduring themes of love, commitment, and ‘being alive’. The cast is uniformly engaging – all triple threats with vocal, acting, and movement skills. They stay true to their characters and deliver authentic and believable performances.”
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June 13th, 2018

"Deft direction and a snappy book and score delivered by a comically-gifted cast, this evening is the perfect compliment to these #metoo times…Highest comic marks go Ryan and Molina as secondary love interests Johnny and Bella… Although on the surface, the evening is played for laughs, Castellino subversively works in some of the Bard’s deeper themes of heartless unyielding law enforcement and sexual harassment—both alive and well four centuries later in Trump’s America."
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June 16th, 2018

"Last October, I strongly recommended 'Desperate Measures,' the delightful musical farce loosely based on…'Measure for Measure,' which it sets in the Wild West, turning…Angelo into a Trump-like tyrant. 'Desperate Measures' has now returned for a commercial run with the only cast change being Sarah Parnicky in the role of Sister Mary Jo...Despite a drop in intimacy, and a running time…that's a little longer than it need be, 'Desperate Measures' continues to ride high in the saddle."
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June 13th, 2018

"Delightful, slightly bawdy show…The entire cast are excellent…The music by David Friedman is consistently hummable and occasionally more than that. The book and lyrics by Peter Kellogg are very clever...Director/choreographer Bill Castellino is quite comfortable with the material and works in several bits of hilarious physical humor.…If you are looking for old-fashioned light summer entertainment, this will fill the bill nicely."
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June 18th, 2018

“Abandons any pretense of wrestling with Shakespeare’s grander, weightier statements...but plays out like the early musicals of the 1930s...While it could be punchier and more socially relevant, I am hard pressed to think of another new musical as fun and, well, charming—a guilty pleasure that kept me smiling from start to finish...The score is abundantly smart and surprising, despite its subtlety, Kellogg’s book and lyrics are well-crafted and humorous."
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June 18th, 2018

"The show’s book by Kellogg, while not exactly a one-joke affair, is pretty close to one. Luckily, there’s no effort to take anything seriously, and the dialogue is filled with rhyming verse, heightening the larky flavour. With the aid of an appealing cast and Bill Castellino’s lively direction and choreography, it manages to work up its share of pleasant merriment...All in all, 'Desperate Measures' is a respectable addition to the canon of musicals that have found their inspiration in the Bard of Avon."
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June 18th, 2018

“A delightful musical...It’s all pretty ridiculous, but those doings (and the repercussions) are presented in a spirited fashion, and with a lovely (and sometimes funny) score, as well as dialogue amazingly pulled off in rhyming couplets à la the bard himself...The cast is game...The villain is a piggish male who is presented as a despicable buffoon. The women are part of a plan to outsmart him, which they nimbly do, using all their wiles. It all works out.”
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June 13th, 2018

"Sometimes an old-fashioned, well-done, energetic, deeply silly musical is the perfect way to spend an evening…Shows of this sort live and die by the direction and performances, and both are swell. Castellino paces the show perfectly, and the cast throw themselves whole-heartedly into the crazy goings-on…Beside their comic talents, they all sing beautifully…As a woman in the lobby after the show summed up, 'You may get here grumpy, but you won't leave grumpy'."
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June 14th, 2018

"Utterly zany, ridiculously charming and unapologetically entertaining...Even this critic...was shaking with laughter more than she was raising an eyebrow throughout this unabashedly old-fashioned but undeniably all-too-relevant production...In the hands of a lesser cast, 'Desperate Measures' could be more problem than play, but under Castellino’s direction, this ensemble shows, rather than tells, the moral questions and quandaries and maintains a feather-light touch."
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June 14th, 2018

"No previous Shakespearean scholarship is required to follow the show’s wacky plot or to have a rollicking good time...Each member of the excellent six-person cast has ample opportunity to shine in solo, duet, and ensemble numbers, ably selling Peter Kellogg’s consistently witty lyrics...While Bill Castellino directs and choreographs 'Desperate Measures' to make the most of its abundant comedic elements, there is a serious undertone to the work."
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June 20th, 2018

"It’s a rare thing when all of the elements come together perfectly to create true theatrical magic...A fast-paced, cheek-aching musical comedy masterpiece! What makes it work so well isn’t any one aspect but all combined...Always clever, sometimes utterly ingenious wordplay that has the audience uproarious with laughter...But what really makes this show soar is its extraordinary cast guided by the deft direction and choreography of Bill Castellino."
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June 17th, 2018

"A witty and quick moving show...The show cleverly addresses themes like justice and hypocrisy through its cast, all of whom have their time to shine. While the music is not the most memorable on the planet it's fun and fits with the attitude of the show. If you're looking for something to entertain you for 2 hours or so, you will certainly find what you're looking for in 'Desperate Measures.'"
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October 16th, 2017

"'Desperate Measures,' a bad-joke travesty of a problem play, is such a hoot...The songs are enthusiastically ordinary, except for the opening number, which is worse...The book is in rhyming couplets. The gags are hoary. Under Castellino’s direction, somehow it’s a delight. There’s less than an ounce of Shakespeare in it, but that probably won’t have the swan of Stratford rolling...That’s the spirit of the terrible, wonderful 'Desperate Measures': Have iamb, will travel."
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October 1st, 2017

"Shakespeare’s plot has been stripped down and stretched out in Kellogg’s clever book...The score, by Kellogg and Friedman, is an airy array of show tunes with country flourishes. But Although Castellino and his cast of six bring bountiful vigor and comedic élan to the production, the characters are mere devices on which to hang songs and jokes. The quest for justice and mercy that burns throughout Shakespeare’s original—and so many Westerns—lies beyond this show’s range."
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October 1st, 2017

"A full-on reclamation of the musical comedy Western...Friedman has crafted a score that harks back to the old days, filled with cheerful melodies that will very likely get stuck in your head...Kellogg provides clever, tongue-in-cheek lyrics and a script that is written almost entirely in iambic pentameter...Castellino keeps his production barreling at a fast clip...'Desperate Measures' doesn't reinvent the wheel, but all told, it is a production of infinite jest and most excellent fancy."
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October 4th, 2017

"Under Bill Castellino's direction, everyone strikes exactly the right note of spoof melodrama...Once in a while, the sheer high spirits are allowed to slip out of control...But 'Desperate Measures' is mostly a fast, funny, tuneful entertainment that shines in direct proportion to the disrespect it shows for its source material."
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October 1st, 2017

"Most of 'Desperate Measures' is a hoot...The jokes are so constant, and director-choreographer Castellino's touch so deft, that the atmosphere becomes supercharged with hilarity, and even the lesser gags land...There's nothing innovative about 'Desperate Measures,' which, every note and every word, sounds like it could have been written in 1962. But hey, that wasn't a bad era for musical comedy. This one's as escapist as escapist can be."
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October 13th, 2017

“While not all musicals from Shakespeare have worked and updates are particularly risky, ‘Desperate Measures’ avoids all of the pitfalls and is a refreshing and satisfying work in its own right. The catchy score has superb songs in the vein of the best of the Broadway Western musical. It is hoped the show has a long life beyond this production, like its young hero, in years to come.”
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October 8th, 2017

"A toe-tapping unforgettable score of fifteen hummable tunes and precise expressive lyrics...A brilliant book without an extra syllable in it...strewn with low jinx bawdy enough to amuse the baseborn and observations astute enough to impress the scholarly, yet capable of making both of the above mutually burst into billowing roars of laughter...An unspoiled, impeccable, picture perfect catch of performers...Every person in the audience walked out laughing."
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October 1st, 2017

"A lighthearted, easy-on-the-ear musical...Castellino smoothly steers the six-member ensemble...All the performers rate an A+ for their acting and singing...The actors milk their broadly drawn characters for maximum humor and beautifully render Friedman's catchy score and Kellogg's very smart lyrics. Emma Degerstedt brings a gorgeous voice and lots of charm to the show's heroine, as does Lauren Molina as the less demure saloon singer Bella."
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October 2nd, 2017

"An uproarious reimagining of Shakespeare's 'Measure for Measure,' complete with a cast of vivacious characters and a host of incredibly memorable songs...Every element of 'Desperate Measures' seems to have been devised with both wit and love. This is also true of the wonderful cast, all of whom turn out both cracking and endearing performances...A musical with a script this lovely AND songs that could stand alone is a relatively rare phenomenon...Not to be missed."
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October 1st, 2017

"It’s a smart and creative reimagining that works wonders on the plot points...A smartly directed and choreographed good time by Castellino, the musical giddily gallops forward, taking a convoluted Shakespearean text and improving on it. I never thought I’d say that, but 'Measure for Measure' mixed with Mel Brooks and a melodic musical score create one great time at the dance hall."
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October 23rd, 2017

"The 'guts' of 'Measure for Measure' with the charm and appeal of a traditional Broadway musical. Peter Kellogg and David Friedman are to be commended for achieving this feat and bringing this clever retelling to the stage...This is a pleasant musical that celebrates the enduring themes of love, commitment, and 'being alive.' The cast is uniformly engaging – all triple threats with vocal, acting, and movement skills."
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October 2nd, 2017

“'Desperate Measures' is a far cry from 'Measure for Measure,' of course, Shakespeare's problem play having been transformed into a musical farce that takes the implausibilities of the original to comic extremes, including mining ironic laughter from the plot's ethical dilemmas…None of the talented singing and dancing thespians lets you down…If you're desperate for some easy-to-swallow musical theatre hard stuff I suggest galloping over to the York for a swig of 'Desperate Measures.'”
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October 1st, 2017

"Adorable, witty, tuneful...The book and lyrics by Kellogg, done in iambic pentameter, are clever, hilarious, and unexpected. The music by Friedman is melodic and gets under your skin...Director and choreographer Bill Castellino keeps the energy flowing, the quips flying, and makes the two-hour show seem effortless...'Desperate Measures' makes us feel good to be alive. This is a must-see show for anyone who loves musicals, wants to laugh and likes well-crafted theatre."
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October 1st, 2017

"Whether or not familiar with the tuner’s predecessor, audiences will quickly realize they’re at a truly entertaining show brimming with a good score, with a strong six-person cast...They’ll fast take to the overall package wrapped and tied with a bow by director-choreographer Bill Castellino...The action gallops along through two acts with the actors happily mugging their way in full-throated splendor...'Desperate Measures' is too much of an enjoyable time to pick at it for minor infractions."
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October 2nd, 2017

"If you are looking for a good time at an Off-Broadway show, I guarantee that you’ll find it in 'Desperate Measures'...All of the scheming and romantic attractions are advanced by the charming score and the excellent voices of the cast members...The musical zips along merrily with fine integration of action and song, and by the end, when all has been colorfully worked out, one can applaud gratefully for all of the fun packed into this compact all-around display of talent."
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October 2nd, 2017

"This rambunctious musical is a blend of dialogue in clever, conversational verse, articulate lyrics, irrepressible comedy, infectious tunes, and characters who are rarely as simple as they seem. GO...Kellogg’s libretto is accomplished...Friedman’s mixture of Broadway-like numbers and hoedowns work together seamlessly...The production is festooned with priceless comic freeze frames, captivating stage business, and general high spirits without becoming a cartoon."
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October 1st, 2017

"A happy surprise of a show filled with enjoyable songs, a talented cast and enough energy to let you overlook its natural desire to give everyone a turn in the spotlight...Director and choreographer Castellino does strong work...keeping the show buoyant...The cast has fun but they’re not too broad...A few bits go on too long...A solid production and a clutch of songs I’m eager to hear again. By any measure, that’s a happy ending."
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November 5th, 2017

"The clever, comedic twists of the story run rampant. Indeed, this high farce, set to an illustrative musical score, both appealing and profound, delivers moment-to-moment joyous excitement...I cannot say enough about the music, as well as the lyrics and book...The show’s currency resonates timelessness...The light of truth can disperse the darkness. That it does so tunefully, memorably, and riotously in 'Desperate Measures' is very welcome for us at this time."
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October 1st, 2017

"A spirited musical...Lyricist Peter Kellogg’s slick book features rhyming couplets and a score of 18 David Friedman catchy tunes...An appropriately brisk pace keeps the plot nimble for the six bang-up actors to chew up the scenery...'Desperate Measures' is the little musical that comes off big on all levels. With shadows of Shakespeare, it is witty and lively and the York Theatre delivers a captivating New York premiere production."
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October 1st, 2017

"A rollicking good time for those who enjoy shows that haven’t much on their minds other than to tickle your ribs and serve comfort food to your ears. For the music by Friedman, with a book and lyrics by Kellogg, is spirited, and sprinkled with wit...The songs come fast and loose, so many of them that they tend to blend into one...A cast of six experienced comic actors each has a chance to land with a piece of special material...A friendly smile-maker of a musical."
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October 16th, 2017

"Directed and choreographed by Bill Castellino with great zest. The musical makes a sly nod not only to the Bard but also to such musical westerns as 'Oklahoma!' and 'Annie Get Your Gun.' At the same time, it is richly sentimental with songs like Susanna’s 'What Is this Feeling?' celebrating her growing love for the sheriff...If you want one side-splitting, foot stomping, hand-clapping good time, get on your horse and ride over to The York."
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October 2nd, 2017

"One of the hottest tickets for Off-Broadway that gives you the same star power and emotional thrills as The Great White Way...The whole show is filled with powerful voices and a few humbling lessons...'Desperate Measures' is a brisk, good time filled with numbers that is rich in arrangements and powerful ballads...More importantly, the lyrics and even fleeting phrases have sincere, societal commentary."
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November 25th, 2017

"This kind of musical spoof on a Shakespearean work has been done before, and a more skillfully might I add . Nevertheless, there’s a spark to the tuneful score that, at its best, ably captures the spirit of classic musical comedy. More problematic is the book, which is written in sometimes painfully obvious rhyming couplets. Shakespeare, or even David Ives, this is certainly not. Despite the problematic book, Castellino’s production is resourceful and playful and the cast happily game."
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October 9th, 2017

"The funniest, most tuneful, non-stop, slam-bang best musical of our four-month-old season...If Shakespeare were alive today, he might smack his head for not thinking of a romantic entanglement that Kellogg did...Kellogg’s jokes get laughs that are substantially longer than the theatrical average. Subtle gags abound, too...Castellino sets a tone where a tongue isn’t firmly planted in cheek, but rubs against it a little."
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October 2nd, 2017

“Cute but predictable and unfortunately not as funny as it tries to be. And that's just it–‘Desperate Measures’ tries desperately hard, but you can feel that strain from some of the forced gags and physical humor…That isn't to say there's nothing in the show for fans of Shakespeare or musicals or farces that take place in the Old West; the seams show and the jokes sometimes land flat, but even when it pushes too hard, it's still endearing, rhymes and knee-slaps be damned.”
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October 4th, 2017

"Manages to transcend its corny potential and genuinely entertain. Though the rhyming can be slightly tiresome at moments, and the show’s overt humor doesn’t always land, the show is smartly structured, balancing its exaggerated shenanigans with enough subtle, tender moments to add nuance and keep its characters from being mere clichés...Its success is largely owed to its cast of six, who ensure that the musical’s over-the-top nature comes across with a balance of humor and humanity."
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December 18th, 2017

"Absolutely no previous Shakespearean scholarship is required to follow the show’s whacky plot—or to have a rollicking good time...Lots of crowd-pleasing, honky tonky, country western melodies that create an evening of knee-slapping fun...Although Castellino directs and choreographs 'Desperate Measures' to make the most of its abundant comedic elements, there is a serious undertone to the work: strict, by-the-book power can lead to corruption and bad government."
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