Tonight author/historian/impresario/host Scott Siegel mines both Off Broadway musicals and those that never made it in to Manhattan. We begin with the iconic Fantasticks, which opened in 1960, ran 42 years in its initial iteration, then 11 more in revival. A perfect introduction, “Try to Remember” (Tom Jones/ Harvey Schmidt) is rendered hushed, musing, crystalline by Christine Andreas. The last “follow” haunts. Later Andreas offers “Welcome Home” from her husband Marty Silvestri’s musical (of) Johnny Guitar. Song and performance are warm and timeless.
In 1962, Circle in the Square Downtown presented the revue Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (Alan Sherman/ Lou Busch): Hello Muddah, hello Fadduh/Here I am at Camp Granada/Camp is very entertaining/And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining…Performing the song, Jason Graae’s expression captures every perturbed nuance with brio. The artist is a master of wry.
1986’s Bee Hive at The Village Gate was a show featuring girl groups. Crystal Joy and the Broadway by the Year Dance Troup offer a giddy “My Boyfriend’s Back” (Bob Feldman/ Jerry Goldstein/ Richard Gottehrer). Joy’s inflection fits the era like a glove; back up is energetic and cute, choreography (by Danny Gardner) the epitome of the era. When it’s his turn, Gardner sings and dances “Don’t Give In” from William Finn’s A New Brain. The man is charming, has a swell voice and taps with the elan of 40s films. Why isn’t he in a musical? Joy returns with a song from Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris to which she brings great dignity.
Danny Gardner; Pedro Coppeti
Just returned from Brazil where he played the hunchback of Notre Dame in the Disney musical, Pedro Coppeti sings “Out There” from that show, then radically switches to contemporary coupledom with a choice from The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown. Character investment is apparent; the voice resonant – a last note circles the hall.
Gina Kreizmar; Kelli Rabke
Gerard Alessandrini’s Forbidden Broadway (1982) has been produced in 200 cities and internationally. Gina Kreiezmar and Michael West perform several numbers with Kreiezmar’s “Liza One Note” leading hysteria. She has Minnelli down. Kelli Rabke delivers vibrant, open-throated vocals with two selections from Stephen Schwartz musicals that never made it to Broadway. (After three successes, there were three almost-rans.) “Meadowlark” soars (The Baker’s Wife).
There are several ensemble segments. Bradley Dean, Adan Grupper, and Cheryl Stern perform “I Need a Life” from No Way to Treat a Lady (Douglas Cohen). The musical scene is amusing, intriguing and deftly arranged. THEN what happened? From Newsical the Musical (Rick Crom). Kristen Anderson, Taylor Crousore, Carly Sakalove, and Michael West adroitly render the biting, “Denial.”
Brian Charles Rooney and the Broadway by the Year Dancers
Brian Charles Rooney ruefully gives us “Laughing Matters” from Howard Crabtree’s When Pigs Fly, which just missed being revived recently (a crying shame), with Rooney a cast member. The artist also closes this BBTY with a sterling “New York, New York” (John Kander/Fred Ebb from And the World Goes Round) accompanied by the young dancers in Fosse hats and poses. Rooney exhibits just a tad of appreciated flippancy and otherwise sings with great heart.
The highlight of an excellent evening were songs performed from Forever Plaid (Stuart Ross): by Leo Daignault, Jason Graae (original cast member) and Larry Raben. (Original cast member David Engle was alas sick.) Wearing very plaid, big-shouldered jackets (with Engle’s hung in sight), the vocalists harmonized, fastidiously gestured in unison, and clowned as they “partnered” with microphone stands. “Rags to Riches” consisted of back-up vocals with space for the absentee lead. VERY funny.
One forgets how much bang-for-the-buck is garnered at a Broadway by the Year show, pretty much something for everyone executed with skill, smoothly produced. Scott Siegel’s narration arrives entertaining, illuminating, and witty. Happy 21st Birthday.
Photos by Sachyn Mital
Created, Written and Directed by Scott Siegel
Musical Direction/Piano-Ross Patterson
Don Falzone- bass, Eric Halvorson- drums
The Broadway by the Year Dance Troupe Choreographed by Danny Gardner: Emily Applebaum, Anna Becker, Ashley Bice, Mary Donnelly, Erin Joy Grgas, La Tarika Pierce
NEXT: One Night Only History of Broadway Song and Dance
September 19, 2022
The Town Hall
123 West 43rd Street