Not to be Missed!
By Myra Chanin
Ricky Ritzel’s Broadway, the 2016 Mac-Award-Winning series, are my favorite shows, not only because Ricky’s regulars have been more than ready for prime time for a considerable time, and not only because the obscure, delicious facts, figures and gossip that flow from Ricky’s lips are memorable, but because (for the however-longer-than-its-predicted-75-minutes-the show endures) it supplies an amusing and entertaining time frame during which no one can predict or envision who’s performing next … and as whom … or what.
For instance, when Ritzel’s regular — full name I Love Sidney Myer, played Dolly, he was never an imitation and never in drag. Even in a wig and feathers, attired in his usual androgynous, anonymous, basic black, he merged his unique talents and his emotional accouterments and sang directly through his very considerable heart. He projects the feelings that stoked and inspired the creation of any song he sings – regardless of whether he’s the Grandfather from The Happy Time, or Tessie Tura, the Gypsy stripper who “grinds till she’s refined it,” or a Roman patrician wrapped in a striped shmatta sheet toga in Forum, Sidney gives his all without a drop of camp.
Ricky Ritzel’s Broadway is a time-tested product, a more or less monthly series, begun in July 2015 in which Ricky, Broadway’s blue collar yenta cum theatrical anthropologist, dishes on three or four theatrical hits (great!) or flopperoos (even better!) and their exhumed original posters. In black tights and an overhanging white shirt, Ricky pays homage to Elaine Stritch, who always performed in that same, albeit considerably smaller sized, ensemble. I’ve seen them all except for last month’s dissertation on 1776, Nine and Sideshow. How come? My West Coast vegetarian kids insisted on treating me to an interesting meatless meal.
My favorite Ricky Ritzel’s Broadway? The one I’m watching, but my heart skips a beat over Ricky’s March 2016 accolades to fiascos which included Carrie, the 8 million dollar debacle with reviews scathing enough to inspire financial backers to retract their investments; Skyscraper, called a “turkey” with a score The New York Times declared lacking “wit and grace;” The Rink, which despite Kander and Ebb’s tunes and the presences of Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera couldn’t overcome bad reviews; and finally 2016’s Robber Bridegroom, a show I found memorable only because of the manifestation of Steven Pasquale’s outstanding groin. Still Ricky and players’ re-presentation of the score made me want to score premium seats to every one of these duds.
Psst! Ricky Ritzel’s Broadway is usually performed on the last Thursday of the month, but if you’re going away for the Labor Day week-end, not to worry, so is Ricky. Consequently the August show will occur on Thursday night, August 11, 2015 at 7 pm at Don’t Tell Mama. Ricky’s most recent Broadway shows have been sell-outs, but I understand there are seats available for this one. It’s a far better use of an evening than watching talking heads dissing the antics of either of two non-presidential presidential candidates on CNN.
The compendium of songs from the shows Ricky’s featured so far this year include: Brigadoon – a perpetually romantic Alan Jay Lerner/ Frederick Loewe hit; Cyrano – outstanding nose but no memorable songs; Flora The Red Menace – a Kander and Ebb first which got Liza a Tony despite a lack of show-stopping numbers and an excess of political content; Golden Boy – wonderfully melodic Charles Strouse hit starring Sammy Davis Jr.; Jane Eyre – which killed James Barbour’s Mr. Rochester within six months; Sweet Smell of Success – the Marvin Hamlish non-hit that got John Lithgow a Tony as !@#$%^& columnist J. J. Hunsecker; Texas Lil Darlin’ – with a cast of 1000’s and nary a mention in Wikipedia; and finally Zorba, another short-lived Kander and Ebb effort with the Greek’s second coming as Anthony Quinn delivering more staying power than the original Herschel Bernardi.
The more than ready for prime time players featured in this show include Tommy J. Dose, Michelle Dowdy, Janice Hall, Tara Moran, Aaron Morishita, I Love Sidney Myer, Laura Pavles, Jay Rogers, Wendy Ann Russell, Jon Satron and whoever else shows up. Dose, Pavles and Satron have day jobs behind the bar at Don’t Tell Mama’s music bar. Jay Rogers is always available to fill the slot for a mustachioed singer of any gender affiliation.
Be there instead of sorry and give yourself a wonderful end of summer gift with lots of laughs, music and surprises. Look for me. I just can’t get enough of him, them or it.
Don’t Tell Mama
343 W. 46th St.
www.donttellmamanyc.com 212 757-0788