Familiar Broadway standards given robust interpretations in an intimate cabaret room.
By Joel Benjamin
Scott Siegel has brought forth yet another 54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits. How one man—even with the help of his indomitable wife, Barbara—can produce so much first rate entertainment is, indeed, a “puzzlement.” He always seems to manage to gather great singers to sing great songs, whatever his theme of the moment is, and right after the New Year on January 2nd.
Siegel was his usual dryly genial self as he introduced the six performers who illuminated some very well-known—perhaps, too well-known—Broadway show tunes from such beloved musicals as My Fair Lady, Oklahoma!, Candide, South Pacific and even the more recent (The New Mel Brooks Musical) Young Frankenstein, from which the wonderfully named Oakley Boycott, tall, svelte and dressed to the nines in a glittery, clinging silver gown, sang “He Vas My Boyfriend.” She sank her talented vocal chords into every Germanic consonant and gleefully tore through all the double entendres and Brooks’ over-the-top-shtick.
Rob Gallagher began his robust “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” offstage, just as it was performed in the original production of Oklahoma!. He returned later to sing another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, “Some Enchanted Evening,” imbuing it with warmth and yearning.
Jenny Lee Stern, a flashy flower in her hair, was given two of the more passionate songs: “As Long As He Needs Me” (Lionel Bart) and “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” (Lloyd Webber/Rice). She certainly has flair and a rich voice.
Paul Schoeffler paced discontentedly about the stage as he interpreted Lerner and Loewe’s “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” and showed his gentler side singing their “Camelot,” as King Arthur.
His Guenevere, Christiane Noll, had quite a bit of stage time herself. She took on the soprano roles which included a dazzling “I Could Have Danced All Night” (Loewe/Lerner) and a well-acted “Not a Day Goes By” (Sondheim). Unfortunately, she overacted in her final number—the show’s finale—the Leonard Bernstein/John LaTouche opera pastiche, “Glitter and Be Gay” from Candide. The number is already a witty send-up of an operatic aria; mugging and stomping about aren’t necessary. (To give Ms. Noll a bit of a reprieve, “Glitter and Be Gay” has been overacted by practically every singer—including a number of opera stars—who’ve taken it on since Barbara Cook’s original, delightfully direct, version.)
Bob Stillman, a light baritone, took on “Maria” (Bernstein/Sondheim), finding all its plaintive qualities. His “Being Alive” (Sondheim), sung at first while sitting on a stool, had an intimate, thoughtful quality, the emotional range expanding as he and his voice rose.
Ross Patterson, Scott Siegel’s stalwartly loyal musical director/arranger, was the solid accompanist for this evening.
54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits – Volume 2 (January 2, 2016)
254 West 54th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue New York, NY
For reservations and information call 646-476-3551 or visit www.54below.com