A magical mix of great songs and terrific singers.
By Joel Benjamin
The previous two volumes of Scott Siegel’s 54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits! were wonderful and satisfying, but somehow Volume 3 was magical from beginning to end, starting with a very eager, sold-out house on February 20, at Feinstein’s/54 Below, and continuing with a superb cast of singing actors who turned themselves inside out interpreting these great, mostly familiar songs.
Scott Siegel regular, rich voiced Maxine Linehan all done up in a glitzy black dress, opened the show with “Cabaret” (Kander/Ebb), soaring gleefully at the end. She also applied herself to “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Jesus Christ, Superstar (Lloyd Webber/Rice), joking that Siegel had asked a nice Irish Catholic girl to sing this number!
Luba Mason, tall, svelte and meltingly sexy not only sang “All That Jazz” from Chicago but did a mini-version of the arm undulating choreography. Her “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man of Mine” from Showboat (Kern/Hammerstein) managed to be both girlish and sexy.
Two singers I was seeing for the first time turned in brilliant performances. Stephen Orr, blessed with a high tenor, was a natural for both “Being Alive” from Company (Sondheim) and “Bring Him Home” from Les Miz (Schönberg/Boublil/Natel/Kretzmer) using his incredible command of dynamics to put both across.
The second was Michael Romeo Ruocco, handsomely bearded, who sang “What Is It About Her?” from the Andrew Lippa version of The Wild Party, a song about obsessive love and also the Kander & Ebb anthem, “The Day After That” from Kiss of the Spiderwoman. He dedicated the latter to his late uncle, giving it all the ironic bitterness he could muster.
Stephanie D’Abruzzo, of Avenue Q fame also had two songs which showed off her versatility. The first was a sweetly cool “I Believe In You” from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Loesser) and the second the bittersweet “Not a Day Goes By” from Merrily We Roll Along (Sondheim).
Kelli Rabke made “The Story Goes On” from Baby (Shire/Maltby) and “On My Own” from Les Miz her own. She was wide-eyed with wonder in the first and sad in the second.
The coolest number, literally and figuratively, was a tap danced version of “Cool” (Bernstein/Sondheim) from West Side Story performed by Luke Hawkins whose feet became a flurry of movement. It certainly was a different version of this song.
The fierce accompaniment was provided by music director Ryan Shirar.
Scott Siegel has more of these concerts coming up both at Feinstein’s/54 Below and the Town Hall.
*Photo: Stuart Chassen
54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits! Volume 3 (February 20, 2016)
254 West 54th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue
New York, NY
For tickets, call 646-476-3551`or visit www.Feinstein’s/54Below.com