by Grace Treston
As a venue, Feinstein’s/54 Below boasts the luxury and glamour of a bygone showbiz age. It’s fitting, for these reasons, that a solid nod to New York’s Broadway theatrics should take place in that very lounge.
Scott Siegel’s Broadway’s Greatest Hits is thoughtfully laid out and deftly crafted. A night at this medley concert is as straight-forward as it sounds – the songs you know best, with few embellishments.
Consuming musical theater in this fashion is not for everyone. Someone who craves strict theatrical structure and immersive costumes is not what Broadway’s Greatest Hits is about. It does just fine on its own with its stream of dedicated listeners where sixteen songs performed by some of Broadway’s best were the fare of the evening.
Deciding on a set-list for this kind of performance must be painstaking. How does one choose sixteen songs that will delight an audience, when each viewer has their own subjective idea of what constitutes ‘the best’?
The songs at January 6th’s showing worked pretty well. Seven very distinct performers took to the stage that night, and their individual talents were the main appeal – often outshining the respective song choice itself.
The set-list was well-paced, albeit somewhat lagging in energy at times. Make no mistake, the performances were beautiful, meaningful, excellently delivered – but something a little musically ‘bigger’ at times might have given the show a stronger impact.
For those new to the format of producer and director Scott Siegel’s series of medley renditions, you should be pleased to know that Scott himself sits atop the stage as MC for the night, bringing a warmth and solid structure to the intimate show. Not only that, but his long-standing rapport with each singer makes everything feel much more relaxed. Alongside Siegel is his long time musical director and pianist, the skilled Ross Patterson.
Alyse Alan Louis opened the show with one of musical theater’s jauntiest tunes, “Johnny One Note” from Babes in Arms. Impressive belting and strong delivery of this fast-paced classic meant that the bar was raised high for her successors. Her second appearance was “Hold On,” from the 1991 musical The Secret Garden.
Maxine Linehan gave listeners the perfect blend of ballads, and her rich vocals added a velvety touch of glamour to the evening. The fact that Maxine graced the stage for three solo performances was also well-received, and she carried the three hits with ease – – Company’s “Being Alive;” “As If We Never Said Goodbye” from Sunset Boulevard, and finally – met with raucous applause – “Memory” from Cats.
Perhaps showing the most versatility, Farah Alvin delighted the audience with her rock-solid stage presence. Although Farah’s enjoyable performances were arguably just the result of lucky spots on the set-list, she certainly took her opportunities and rolled with them. They included: “Whoever You Are, I Love You” from Promises, Promises, followed by a stand-out version of Carrie’s “I’m Not Alone.” Farah closed out the show with the only duet of the night with the talented Brian Charles Rooney, precisely the kind of finale needed. Their rendition of “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors was deftly presented with the right balance of comedic delivery and vocal precision.
Rooney, the show’s only male vocalist, had a lot on his plate with the two most recognizable songs of the evening – – “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables and “Music Of The Night” from Phantom Of The Opera, certainly not the easiest to sing.
Suffice it to say, Rooney did an astounding job. However, upon seeing his animated performance in the finale with Farah, gifting us with just a glimpse more of those acting chops is what I craved.
Les Miserables fans were sure to be pleased, with the eclectic Tiffany Tatreau performing the musical’s emotional “On My Own.” It’s rather easy to admit that Tiffany has the most unique tone of all seven singers, which became truly apparent during her wonderful rendering of “Lost In His Arms” (Annie, Get Your Gun).
Rita Harvey provided us with two songs that are well-engrained in the collective musical psyche – the instantly mood-lifting “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady and “Think Of Me” from Phantom Of The Opera. From these renditions, Rita’s operatic training was unmistakable. Her previous Broadway experience as Christine from Phantom was also delightful to witness first-hand.
Finally, Oakley Boycott’s two appearances were unforgettable. Boycott’s inimitable attitude while on stage gave her the quirky edge. Managing to perfectly dictate “He Vas My Boyfriend” (Young Frankenstein) with such a heavy accent is no easy feat – and her version of “The Party’s Over” from Bells Are Ringing was just the right amount of wistful.
All in all, Siegel’s show is exactly what it needs to be . . . a crowd-pleaser for sure – and this crowd certainly left the venue very satisfied.
Scott Siegel’s Broadway’s Greatest Hits returns Feb 16, Mar 9, Apr 7, May 25, June 30, and July 21.
Tickets are available at 54Below.com. (254 West 54 Street – Cellar)
Photo: Stuart Chassen