Day By Day -- At Ford's Theater through April 6.
The cast was tiny but talented, enthusiastic and professional; and if their words or voices vanished occasionally into the upper reaches of Ford's Theater, well, they're not the first to have lost tones and notes up there, and they won't be the last.
The lighting and set were fine, too, unobtrusive but helpful, like a good servant, and the choreography was bright and clever.
So why did I leave "Day by Day" feeling a little flat?
Partly, I suppose, because this wistful little list of virtues is so easy to compose; I wanted to like the show as much as those involved in it clearly do. But I could't.
Maybe it's the times: After all heres' a composer/lyricist, Steven Schwartz, who's had "three hits running simultaneously on Broadway," the program points out: "Godspell," "Pippin" and "The Magic Show." He's even made a muscial out of Studs Terkel's book working , which is more than most people could even conceive of, let alone accomplish. So maybe it's just being out of joint with the times to complain that going to a revue of his songs is like being stuck in an evelator for two hours with Barry Manilow.
But a two-hour "and then I wrote" of Rodgers, Hart, Hammerstien, Hoagy Carmichael, Hank Williams or even Rudolph Friml would send you out of the theater humming. The revue of Fats Waller's music, "Ani't Misbehavim," which played here last summer, is still going strong in New York, still sending them out smiling and whistling on the sidewalk. But there's not a whistleable tune in this one, and not that many smiles.
In other words, the content of "Day by Day" is trifling, occasionally rising to pleasant.
Not that the show's all bad: Each member of the cast has a couple of fine moments (notably Carolyn McCurry's "Turn Back O Man" and "The Good Time Ladies Rag" and James Rich's "Bong").
But the problem is that the cast is playing Schwartz and, as the old saying has it, Schwartz is winning.
In the end, it comes down to a recurring Washington question: You know that you'll meet engaging people, that the ambiance will be amiable and the dancing fun; but do you want to go to another one of his parties?
It depends on how much you like Stephen Schwartz.