Scott Siegel’s Broadway By The Year Series celebrates 1965 & 1978 with an all star cast at The Town Hall on May 20
by Linda Amiel Burns
It is remarkable that after 19 years, these concerts at The Town Hall celebrating the Broadway musical, continues to feel fresh and exciting. Scott Siegel who created the concept, also directs, writes, and hosts these concerts. He assembled a first rate cast of singers and dancers with Ross Patterson’s “Little Big Band” providing the accompaniment. Ross has been the music director from the beginning and Don Falzone was on bass, with Eric Halvorson on drums.
The first act began with the musicals of 1965, a year that many popular hit songs came from the Broadway musicals. Opening was the super talented Ethan Slater, Tony nominated for Sponge Bob, singing “A Wonderful Day Like Today” (The Roar of the Greasepaint-The Smell of the Crowd). He also scored with “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” from the show of the same name, and performed a terrific rendition of “If I Ruled The World” from Pickwick. Jazz singer Nicole Henry sang the tender “Why Did I Choose You?” fromThe Yearling, a show that closed after only three performances, and a lively version of “Feeling Good” from Roar of the Greasepaint. “Who Can I Turn To?,” also from that show, and Rick Faugno sang a dramatic rendition of it.
Betsy Wolfe’s “A Quiet Thing” from Flora, The Red Menace, was Kander and Ebb’s first show that starred a 19 year old Liza Minnelli. She also performed “Someone Woke Up” from Do I Hear a Waltz, an unhappy collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim. I always loved the song “He Touched Me” from Drat! The Cat! and it was beautifully sung by Lianne Marie Dobbs. However, with today’s “Me Too Movement,” the lyric felt a little creepy and strange and I was hearing the song in a different way. Corbin Bleu, who now stars in the recent revival of Kiss Me, Kate is certainly a triple threat. From Skyscraper, he sang a delightful “Everybody Has the Right to be Wrong.”
The highlight of this act was Lianne performing “It’s All the Same” from Man of La Mancha with Jake Owen on guitar and the BBTY Dance Troupe, with thrilling choreography by Danny Gardner. Then Danny sang and danced a show stopping “Nothing Can Stop Me Now” that he also choreographed to close the first act that brought the audience to its feet.
The second act was the shows of 1978 and the revue Ain’t Misbehavin’ won the Tony for Best Musical that year. Nicole performed Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose” and also “Mean to Me.” Lianne, sang a sexy and fun “Keeping’ Out of Mischief.” Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, a surprise hit, was represented by Douglas Ladnier singing “Hard Candy Christmas” and Betsy singing “Doatsy Mae. Working, based on Studs Turkel’s book, will be revived by Encores this summer and Rick Faugno sang “The Mason.”
Timbuktu! was a resetting of Forrest and Wrights’ Kismet (1953) with music by Alexander Borodin set in 1361 in the Ancient Empire of Mali, West Africa. The haunting “Stranger in Paradise” was sung by the golden voiced Douglas Ladnier. The last three numbers alone was worth the price of admission. Corbin and Rick (choreographed by Rick) danced magnificently to “Sing Sing Sing” from Dancing. Then Danny, who choreographed the number, sang “I Wanna Be a Dancin’ Man” as the BBTY Troupe joined him in a sensational dance number. I thought that this was the end of the show, but Scott brought us back to 1965 for a “grand finale” as Douglas sang an amazing version of “The Impossible Dream” to complete this outstanding evening of music, song and dance.
The next Broadway By The Year will be on Monday, June 17th, 2019 – Broadway Musicals of 1987 & 2015.
Photos: Maryann Lopinto
To get tickets: The Town Hall Box Office at 123 West 43rd Street or call or order online via Ticketmaster. Email Scott at SiegelEntertainment@msn.com if you need any help or further info.