An Exceptional Cast Pays Tribute to Jerry Herman at 54 Below

Lee Roy Reams

By Linda Amiel Burns

Composer and lyricist Jerry Herman (7/10/31–12/26/19) was a giant of the musical theater with an exceptional catalog of hit shows, memorable songs, and a musical legacy that remains unequaled. With so many great songs to chose from, it is not easy to decide what songs to showcase in any tribute show. Scott Siegel hosted and put together an exciting evening with a talented cast who each brought their own magic to Jerry Herman’s songs. Renowned Music Director Ron Abel accompanied everyone to perfection. 

Tovah Feldshuh opened with “It’s Today” from Mame, his hit Broadway show from 1966. She pointed out that this melody had different words in his first revue, Parade, about the virtues of a “showtune” (Tovah also sang Herman’s “Shalom” from Milk & Honey).

Brian Charles Rooney never disappoints whether singing comic or serious numbers. “Before The Parade Passes By” closed the first act of Hello Dolly and is usually sung by a woman, but Brian made it special. He also scored on “I Am What I Am” from La Cage Aux Folles.

Hugh Panero has an extraordinary voice and “It Only Takes a Moment” from Hello Dolly was very touching, along with the moving “Kiss Her Now” from Dear World. Joan Ryan sang one of my favorite songs from that show— “I Don’t Want To Know”— and made it her own. “If He Walked into My Life” from Mame was beautifully sung by Farah Alvin, who also captured the pathos in “Time Heals Everything” (Mack and Mabel).

Joan Ryan

Danny Gardner always brings wonderful energy to his performances along with amazing dancing, and his “Tap Your Troubles Away” from Mack and Mabel was terrific. He also tapped and sang to “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” from Hello Dolly. Also from that show: Emma Maxwell was bewitching singing “Ribbons Down My Back.”

Lee Roy Reams has a long history with Jerry Herman and Hello Dolly. I recall seeing Lee Roy at the famed Rainbow and Stars many years back, with Jerry accompanying him at the piano. He sang a song that was cut from Hello Dolly— “Penny In Your Pocket”— and brought back for the recent revival. Of course, you cannot talk about that show without the title song “Hello Dolly,” and Lee Roy brought his great charm to this famous number.

The entire cast returned with the best closer ever, “The Best of Times” from La Cage Aux Folles, as the audience sang along. There cannot be enough Tributes to this multi-award-winning legendary composer who will continued to be honored and remembered for his remarkable contribution to the theater and the world of music.

Photos: Linda Amiel Burns

Scott Siegel has a slew of shows coming up, including Broadway By The Year at Town Hall on 2/24/20.

www.SiegelEntertainment.com

www.54Below.com/Feinsteins

Correction: An earlier version of this review mistakenly attributed the song “It’s Today” to Herman’s 1961 musical Milk & Honey.

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