by: John Weatherford
(Photos above Russ Weatherford)
Scott Siegel, along with his outstanding director, Scott Coulter, has selected 19 fresh and exciting new talents for this year’s Broadway Rising Star concert. It was a fast-paced show, giving the audience the opportunity to experience up and coming artists. It must be thrilling for the dedicated performers, who have trained from high school through college, to be entering this highly competitive world of entertainment. This year the music of Kander and Ebb was chosen for the evening and, according to director extraordinaire, Scott Coulter, the participants were given the musical numbers one week before the concert. They rose to the task. John Fischer, musical director, did a most impressive job putting together the arrangements and writing the charts for his band of able musicians.
It is a wonderful opportunity for these newbies to be presented at Town Hall, a National Historic Landmark, one of the most respected venues in the city. They were able to show their talents in front of the capacity crowd.
All the cast did an impressive job, but in circumstances where a variety of talent is presented, there are inevitably those who stand out. Tiffany Gray was stunning singing “My Own Best Friend” from Chicago. Trevor James was impressive with his rendition of “Marta” from Kiss of the Spider Woman. Keziah Niambi John-Paul, given the task of opening the evening, started the night off with the right amount of power and pizzazz with “But the World Goes ‘Round” from the revue And, the World Goes ‘Round. Stephen Orr was tremendous as he filled the historic theatre with a glorious and inspired version of the title song from Kiss of the Spider Woman. Noah J. Ricketts dazzled the audience with his vocal strength and physicality doing “City Lights” from The Act. And, Madeline Hamlet was a delightful breath of fresh air as she created a scene with “A Quiet Thing” from Flora the Red Menace. This young lady knows who she is and how to present her gifts.
Rising to the top was Michael Romeo Ruocco. A recent graduate of The New Studio on Broadway at NYU Tisch School of Arts, Ruocco was riveting as he commanded the stage with his interpretation of “The Day After That” from Kiss of the Spider Woman. This young man shows the kind of presence and power that will be embraced by audiences from stage to screen to television. His current credits indicate that he is on his way.
Special guest star, Bill Irwin, is one of the major lights in our celestial world. His talents are many, but he will always be honored for his kindness and generous heart. Good wishes go out to all those selected to be part of this event. They are winners all. And, here’s to you Scott Siegel, another job well done.
Photos: Maryann Lopinto unless noted