By Joel Benjamin
What more perfect way to celebrate the first anniversary of 54 Below’s beloved 54 Sings series than reprise their tribute to the Jerry Herman musical Mame? Mame opened the series and remains the template for all the subsequent shows, most hosted by the genial Phil Geoffrey Bond whose gossipy tidbits are worth the price of admission.
The ever youthful Lee Roy Reams roamed through the audience singing “It’s Today” giving it enough energy to lift 54 Below right up into the theater above. Annie Golden got the funny prayer, “St. Bridget” just right—silly but earnest. Klea Blackhurst showed two sides of her vocal prowess, first with a wonderfully vigorous “Open a New Window” and then, in the sweet, quiet duet, “My Best Girl” with the delightful kid, Lewis Grosso. Little Master Grosso morphed into the handsome Brian Charles Rooney in the course of “The Letter/My Best Girl Reprise.”
Mame is known for its combination of comedy and sentiment. In the former category was “The Moon Song” (“The Man in the Moon is a Woman”) sung by Cady Huffman and the famous cat fight “Bosom Buddies” in which Ms. Huffman was joined by her equally talented colleague Dee Hoty. Lucia Spina wrung every hilariously awful twist and turn out of “Gooch’s Song” and stopped the show.
Two vintage Herman love songs were on the bill. “Loving You,” written for Robert Preston in the ill-fated movie version of Mame, turned a list of romantic places into a poem. Sean McDermott was the perfect leading man, ardent and rich-voiced The matchless, superb Marilyn Maye put her stamp on the show’s biggest hit, “If He Walked Into My Life.”
Of course, the program had to end on the anthem, “Mame” sung by a roomful of fine singers surrounding the seated audience members. It was a terrific way to close the show.
There are several 54 Sings coming up, so check out the 54 Below website.
54 Sings Mame – December 7, 2014
254 West 54th St. between 8th Ave. & Broadway
New York, NY
Reservations and Information: 646-476-3551