Producer/Director Daniel Dunlow and Host/Creator Alexandra Silber pay a 94th Birthday Tribute to the legendary Angela Lansbury at The Green Room 42 on Oct. 16, 2019 with a host of Broadway singers.
by Linda Amiel Burns
The Green Room 42 celebrated the 94th birthday of the beloved theater and film icon Angela Lansbury with an evening called “The Angela Lansbury Power Playlist Live!” This delightful show was produced and directed by Daniel Dunlow who is also The Director of Programing for this beautiful performance space in the Yotel Hotel on 10th Avenue.
Hosted by the charming Alexandra Silber (Fiddler on the Roof, Carousel) who is such an adoring fan of this legend, announced the event was based on her actual Spotify playlist devoted to the star. Then she created the concept to bring some of Broadway’s new and veteran performers to pay tribute, show clips, give facts, tell stories, conduct an audience trivia quiz, and sing songs from the musicals that Angela (a five time Tony winner) starred in such as Mame, Sweeney Todd, Dear World, Gypsy, Beauty and The Beast. A great addition was photos of Angela on the screens accompanying the songs.
The show opened with an instrumental overture of “Substitutionary Locomotion” led by the superb Eugene Gwozdz on piano (he also did the band arrangements), joined by Sarah Tompkins on drums and Leo Smith on bass, providing great support for the singers for this eclectic evening of song. Amy Jo Jackson opened with a lively rendition of “Its Today” from Mame. Mason Alexander performed a haunting “Kiss Her Now” made up as Countess Aurelia, Angela’s character in Dear World, for which she won a Tony in 1969. Sally Ann Triplett scored with a riotous “Worst Pies in London” from Sweeney Todd.
Angela began her film career in 1944 at age 18 in “Gaslight” and in 1945 “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and was nominated for an Oscar two years in a row. Angela’s 1971 film Bedknobs and Broomsticks featured live action and animation and Michael Wordly sang the Sherman Brothers hit “The Age of Not Believing.” Willy Falk performed a dynamic “If He Walked Into My Life” (Mame) and Allie Trimm sang the lovely title song from the film “Beauty and the Beast” that Angela recorded on a short break from her TV Series Murder She Wrote.
An emotional highlight was provided by Lawrence Merritt who was in a car accident and had to learn to walk again. He was in the original production of Dear World in 1969 and sang the moving “I Don’t Want to Know.” Paige Davis (Trading Places) announced that she had celebrated her 50th Birthday the day before and burst into “That’s How Young I Feel” from Mame. Then she and Alexandra sang the famed “Bosom Buddies” both admitting that they hadn’t rehearsed enough but their spontaneity made the duet fun.
In 2010, Angela was in the revival of A Little Night Music and Alexis Molnar performed the Sondheim classic “Send In The Clowns.” Amy Jo Jackson returned to the stage to wow the crowd with “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy. Alexandra closed with “Old Friends” from Merrily we Roll Along, an appropriate ending to a special evening as most of us think of Angela as an “old friend” having admired her all of our lives. Kudos to the talented cast and production team that presented this remarkable tribute to a remarkable woman and we are all looking forward to see what they come up with for her 95th birthday in 2020!