by: Susan Hasho





A college reunion? Well, sort of. If you mean a gathering of people who went to the same school. But at 54 Below, Columbia University was represented by star alumni performers and composers. 54 Below has a tradition of creating evenings where grads of the same school show up to perform. It has an atmosphere of great support and fun—and surprise. So many talented people from one place is always a wonder.

This evening included Rodgers and Hart, Oscar Hammerstein II, Fred Ebb–all from Columbia, at one time or another, and David Henry Hwang—who was there to introduce songs from The Flower Drum Song.

The composer Rick Hip-Flores backed up the proceedings with great gusto on the piano. Donna Vivino began the show with Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered (Rodgers/Hart), Lauren Cipoletti with Manhattan (Rodgers/Hart), and Devin Ilaw performed a still and beautiful rendition of You Are Beautiful from The Flower Drum Song (Rodgers/Hammerstein II).

Rick Hip-Flores’ work was represented by singer Britney Coleman – his two songs upbeat and fun: Count Me In and Restless Heart. Kait Kerrigan performed a song she wrote with Brian Lowdermilk from their show Tales from the Bad Years. The song was moving and complicated and sad and amusing  — and performed beautifully.

Tom Kitt (Next to Normal, If/Then) came to the piano and was joined by Donna Vivino who sang As If I Weren’t There and Jennifer Damiano sang the plucky Just Right. Kitt then performed a song he wrote for his own 100th Anuual Varsity Show at Columbia, Our World.

In all, with several new musical composers in the house and the luminary shadow of alums like Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers past, it was clear that Columbia University has been and still is the breeding ground for many a brilliant artist.

Band: Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf, cello; Rick Hip-Flores, piano; David Steinberg, violin

Next up is Kent State March 27th at 11:30pm.

54 Below – 254 W 54th Street Cellar – New York, NY Tickets & Information 646-476-3551