Raissa Katona Bennett

Raissa Katona Bennett

William Michal

William Michals








NY Music Review by Marilyn Lester


Now in its third year, Scott Siegel’s evergreen cabaret show, Broadway Ballyhoo! has landed at 54 Below after wandering from its original home at the now defunct Feinstein’s at the Regency to a ten-month stint at the Laurie Beechman Theater. Debuting brightly in its snazzy new home, the Ballyhoo! got off to a festive start, celebrating the launch in tandem with the birthday fête of long-time Siegel supporter, actress and woman-about-town, Marya Coburn. The room was filled with revelers eager to celebrate both events at full throttle.

Marya Coburn

Marya Coburn






Bass-baritone William Michals, whose powerful and resonant voice effortlessly filled the room, opened the show with “Some Enchanted Evening,” from South Pacific, which set the tone for plenty of enchantment to follow. His second number, much later in the evening, was dedicated to Miss Coburn: “They Call The Wind Maria,” from Paint Your Wagon, became, of course, “They Call the Wind Marya.”

get-attachment-2.aspxAffable host Siegel was in his element. No stranger to this format of presenting Broadway’s top talent (he hosts Broadway By the Year and Broadway’s Rising Stars, Nightlife Awards, among others) the rest of the evening’s lineup did not disappoint. Two doyens of the legitimate stage – Raissa Katona Bennett and Jana Robbins – both performers turned producers, turned up the heat in the room with an artistry and surety that only experience can bring to performance.

First up was Raissa with “Think of Me” from Phantom of the Opera. Jana, a Cy Coleman adept, performed a dramatic rendition of City of Angels’ “With Every Breath I Take” as her first outing. Raissa returned with “When I Look At You” from the oft-revised Scarlett Pimpernel.

For her second number, Jana sang “I’m Still Here,” from Follies. Sung with relish and knowing, Jana’s interpretation underscored Siegel’ estimation that the Sondheim tune fit her career very, very well.

The baritone vocal range was also represented in Ben Davis, whose miraculous voice makes the singing process seem effortless. Ben delivered “I Don’t Remember You” from The Happy Time and a heartfelt rendition of “Dulcinea” from Man of La Mancha. One could easily imagine the spirit of Richard Kiley tipping his Don Quixote helmet to Ben in admiration.

With much of classic Broadway represented, the evening was punctuate with “new Broadway” in the form of breakthrough composer David Austin. David sang “I’m In Love With You Arthur Danby” from his new musical Writing Arthur Danby, and “I Know Everything About You” from Lila. Austin’s music is accomplished and the lyrics smart and literate.

The “new” was also represented in “surprise guest,” Carole J. Bufford, a rising star with a true, clear and emotive voice. Carole inhabits the music, feeling it in every molecule of her body. Her talent and enthusiasm allow for fresh takes on the American Songbook and beyond. Currently performing at the Metropolitan Room, Carole sang two numbers from her Shades of Blue show: a gutsy, growly “Who Did That To You?” from the film, Django Unchained, and the rock and roll classic, “Oh, Darling,” slowed to a soulful blues tempo.

Music Director Ian Herman, is a singers’ pianist. His accompaniment not only provided just what each performer needed, but gave testament to just how powerful and complete a piano and a voice can be together.

Scott Siegel’s Broadway Ballyhoo! at 54 Below, Tuesday, July 8 at 9:30 pm. 254 West 54th Street, 646-476-3551,