Oh, What Sweet Memories . . .
By Sandi Durell
Where do I begin? Lee Roy Reams is, by far, Mr. ShowBiz . . . Mr. song, dance, actor . . . the epitome of what a Broadway musical star is when we look at the history of when musicals were musicals! He was also very connected to the iconic composer/lyricist Jerry Herman who wrote some of the greatest musicals ever. I doubt anyone out there would dispute this.
From the expressive opening “It’s Today” (Mame), we couldn’t get enough of the extraordinary history of the genius of Jerry Herman from boyhood to his death in 2019. Young JH knew nothing about music until he saw Ethel Merman in Annie Get Your Gun and went home and played the songs – remarkable! And it was Frank Loesser who steered Jerry away from becoming a designer to concentrate on composing. And, as they say, the rest is history.
From my perspective, no one else could deliver the Herman hits like Lee Roy Reams. He lives and breathes them with great emotion, panache, delivering each with intelligence – having mastered the great art of storytelling. With numero uno Alex Rybeck on piano providing the musical backup it was heavenly.
Songs like “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” (Hello,Dolly!) and the medley that ensued are priceless. And the great hits just kept on coming . . . “My Best Girl” (Mame), where a very youthful, charming Lee Roy seemed to emerge, as he explained that he and Jerry were both Mama’s boys.
No, not all the Jerry Herman shows were winners . . . think “Dear World.” But then think about “Mrs. Jacobowsky” from The Grand Tour, a comedy song with laugh-out-loud lyrics that wowed the audience in the hands of Lee Roy Reams – another showstopper.
Although “Mack n’ Mabel” never got its just due, it’s filled with spectacular clever lyrics, the songs continually sung by many of the current stream of Broadway performers. And, needless to say, Lee Roy made magic with “Movies Were Movies,” “Wherever He Ain’t,” and a very sad and emotional “Time Heals Everything.”
Time to bring on the red boa and pay tribute to the glorious songs from multi-award winning La Cage aux Folles – one hit after another, as Lee Roy struts his stuff portraying anyone and everyone from Mae West, Tallulah to Deitrich, that had the audience roaring and wanting more.
Kudos to Lee Roy Reams who is not only the essence of Show Biz, but is also a director and choreographer. Hopefully, he will tour this show because it’s more than cabaret – it’s great theater. My tablemate +1 was the inimitable Marilyn Maye and she couldn’t have agreed more!
Closing out a perfect evening – “The Best of Times” and it certainly was!
Lee Roy Reams Remembering Jerry Herman has been extended again on August 23 at 7 pm. Get your tickets now. www.54Below.com
Photos: Maryann Lopinto