October 28, 2015

Chicken-fried Chekhov? Russian-style anomie served with strumming guitars and a Nashville twang? It sounds like a recipe for folly, or maybe fodder for some higher-brow improv troupe. But “Songbird,” a musical adaptation of a certain Chekhov play (yes, the one with a flying critter in its title), proves to be one of the more successful attempts to transpose that Russian dramatist’s major plays to new climes and new times. Powered by a terrific country score by Lauren Pritchard, with a strong assist from Michael Kimmel’s smart contemporary version of the text, the show succeeds in snugly reframing the story in the world of country music, with the actress Arkadina becoming the country music star Tammy Trip, played with her usual lush magnetism by Kate Baldwin (“Big Fish,” “Finian’s Rainbow”), who drapes her beautiful voice in a smooth Southern accent.