By Brian Scott Lipton
For nearly two decades, the songs of Jim Steinman – mini-operas about lost love, broken hearts, and rebellious young men – were practically ubiquitous on the pop radio charts, brought to blazing life by Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler, Air Supply, and Celine Dion. If one had somehow forgotten these singular creations, they became re-burned in the memory after “Total Eclipse: The Music of Jim Steinman,” an impressive 90-minute concert at 54 Below on Tuesday, May 5.
The evening, co-created by the composer himself (who was prominently in attendance), came about after Steinman heard one of his songs performed in a previous 54 Below show and commented on music director Benjamin Rauhala’s YouTube video of that number.
From that unexpected beginning came a superb opportunity for some of Broadway’s strongest young performers to show off their vocal pyrotechnics on some of Steinman’s biggest hits, from Kate Rockwell’s searing belt on “It’s All Coming Back to Me” to Josh Young’s intense take on “Making Love Out of Nothing At All,” Justin Matthew Sargent’s fiery “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That),” Constantine Maroulis’ sure-handed “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” and Jeremy Jordan’s pathos-filled “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
Some lesser-known performers made equally strong impressions, beginning with 24-year-old stunner Tyce Green, who shall we say sang the hell out of “Bat Out of Hell” to thunderous applause. Ariana DeBose (currently of “Hamilton”) showed great sensitivity on the “The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be,” while Jessica Hendy served up “Holding Out for a Hero” (from the film “Footloose”) with an unusual sultriness, heating up the already warm room.
Still, the loudest cheers of the evening were saved for Steinman’s two longtime leading ladies: Ellen Foley (who also starred on Broadway in “Into the Woods”), still in superb shape and excellent voice, scored with the gorgeous ballad “Heaven Can Wait” (from the little-known musical “Neverland” and recorded some years back by Sally Mayes), while another Broadway veteran, Karla DeVito (aka Mrs. Robby Benson) closed out the show with an a cappella version of “Lost Boys & Golden Girls” followed by a kick-ass rendition of “Rock ‘N’ Roll Dreams Come Through.” Indeed, they do!