by Susan Hasho
Bruce Springsteen is on Broadway and now he’s entered the cabaret scene. Not literally, but by way of a group of extremely talented, rocking Broadway folks at the cabaret 54 Below. They filled the room with his music and indeed, his spirit.
Adding a notch to the 54 Sings series, a cast of Broadway talent and musicians rolled up the carpet and let loose beginning with Springsteen’s classic “Born to Run” and “She’s the One.” Each performance was unique and brought the Springsteen essence as well as a rich musical sound complete with the requisite sax (Dennis Michael Keefe). Not an easy task to take on an icon.
“Born to Run” came out of the gate, top of the show with lights flashing and Anthony Sagaria pumping out the familiar song with his own flair. In “She’s the One,” Pomme Koch sang and played guitar with a little Elvis twang thrown in. He was brilliantly meshed with the band and threw in a harmonica solo to boot. Britney Coleman covered “Atlantic City” with what looked like an electric banjo and created a full play, personal and lovely. There is a group band called the Playbillies and they took on “Dancing in the Dark” with an improvisational style and a fun sly wink.
Further highlights included Deborah S. Craig’s performance of “Philadelphia.” Subtle and plaintive, she brought beautiful attention to the power of the song’s simplicity. Jon-Michael Reese followed with “Born in the USA” and added a deep soulfulness to the already rabble-rousing anthem. Jessica Vosk and Julia Murney both strong and very talented ladies were fascinating. They each brought their own unique style to the arrangement of “I’m on Fire” and “Fire” and were great to watch together–powerful and perfect.
Ben Fankhauser accompanied himself on piano and was so good, obviously was having so much fun that the temperature clicked up a degree. For an inspired change of pace, Nic Rouleau brought a quiet simple folk spirit to “If I Should Fall Behind.” Marissa Mulder had to be there for her classic and nuanced performance of Tom Wait’s “Jersey Girl.” And Gerard Canonico having grown up “next door” to Springsteen needed to do a rousing end-of-the-show “Thunder Road.”
The Band: Matt Cusak (Bass), Dan Berkery (Drums) and Dennis Michael Keefe (Sax) sounded like a hundred and were led by the intrepid co-Musical Directors Michael Rosengarten on Guitar and Strings, and Emily Marshall on Piano and Keyboard. The arrangements were amazing, and sounded like Springsteen multiplied by joy and respect.
Glad to be able to say, 54 Below might just be able to do anything.
54 Below – 254 W 54th Street Cellar – New York, NY Tickets & Information 646-476-3551 www.54below.com