by Joel Benjamin
Scott Siegel once again proves that musical theater has a vibrant future.
Scott Siegel, that indefatigable godfather of Broadway talent, presented a stageful of young performers in his most recent chapter of Broadway Rising Stars at the Town Hall. There are probably no better auspices to appear under than Mr. Siegel’s whose knowledge of theater is encyclopedic and whose connections are prolific. These young singers were directed by Siegel stalwart, Scott Coulter and choreographed by Vibecke Dahl giving each and everyone a chance to shine. The theme Mr. Siegel chose was songs associated with Disney shows and films, which provided a surprisingly wide spectrum of styles and emotions.
The two-hour show featured too many young artists to mention them all, but several stood out for one reason or another. The assembled forces opened and closed the show with impressive displays of harmony and use of the limited stage space. “Bless This Show” from Sister Act was the perfect opener and a combination of “Circle of Life” and “When You Wish Upon a Star,” provided an emotionally satisfying wind-up. Seeing them all work together so smoothly made it clear that musical theater has a vibrant future.
Tall and elegant Christine Baird sang “Someday My Prince Will Come,” finding a way with her voice and body language to make this treacly ditty totally convincing. Adam Huel Potter took advantage of his large presence to put across “Be Prepared” from The Lion King, totally in command of his voice and the material.
CoCo Smith sasheyed on and blew the house away with “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid. Lovely, Italian-born Francesca Capetta’s slight accent colored her “God Help the Outcasts” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, her face expressing as much as her voice.
Charlie Meredith made the most of his muscular physique and big smile in his sexy—yes, sexy—rendition of “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” while Ally Kupferberg had a sensuality that added many colors to “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas. Sommer Carbuccia, who suffered a leg amputation, didn’t let that get in his way in his touching “Proud of Your Boy” from Aladdin. Josh Greenblatt was joined by the others in the Act One closer, “Endless Night” from The Lion King, giving it a campfire-ritual quality.
DJ Plunkett used all his boyish eagerness singing “Go the Distance” from Hercules. Paola Hernandez fairly burst at the seams in her energetic “I Wanna Be a Rockette.” If there were any sexual innuendo hidden in “He’s a Tramp” from Lady and the Tramp, Renée Gagner found it.
The other youthful hopefuls were: Anne Bragg, Sarah Bishop, Malik Eccleston, Jacob Pressley, Ben Chavez, Austin Thomas, Pepe Nufrio, and Harriet Taylor.
John Fischer on piano led Jerry DeVore on bass and Dan Gross on drums in colorful, witty arrangements of these Disney songs, giving them sophistication and depth.
Photos – Maryann Lopinto
Broadway Rising Stars was performed at The Town Hall (123 West 43rd Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues), Monday, July 13, 2015