A Night at the Operetta

Town Hall, NYC - July 14, 2008

Review by John Kenrick

For the second year in a row, Scott Siegel kicked off a summer series of concerts at Town Hall with A Night at the Operetta, giving a cast of Broadway and cabaret all-stars a chance to showcase fantastic songs from the now rarely heard operetta canon. What started as a delightful experiment last July more than fulfilled its promise this time around, with a deftly performed program of songs by Offenbach, Friml, Herbert, Romberg and other composers who gave the musical theatre its romantic voice in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. What a treat is is to hear a collection of gifted professionals delivering this vintage material with obvious relish.;

With the brilliant Fred Barton providing superb musical direction and lovingly crafted arrangements, there were no weak spots in a two hour-plus program that had an audience of music buffs cheering time and again. This crowd was so well-versed in operetta that the mention of many key song titles evoked audible demonstrations of delight. The singers all responded with all-out, heartfelt performances. Let's face it -- today's musicals give singers few opportunities to soar into the musical stratosphere, so it was no surprise that the cast was visibly having as good a time as this extremely responsive audience.

Highlights included hunky William Michaels, whose heart-stopping dark velvet baritone won the loudest cheers of the night, Karen Murphy's enchanting rendition of the soprano showpiece "Kiss Me Again," cabaret star Milla Ilieva's touching take on "Yesterdays," and stellar performances by such Broadway favorites as the hilarious and sexy Jason Graae, the stalwart Alexander Gemignani, and the divine Christine Andreas, as well as the classic Irish tenor of cabaret veteran Bill Dougherty.

A suggestion for any future editions of this delightful operetta evening: it would be great to include selections by Gilbert and Sullivan, and not relegate their canon of hits to one tune in the entr'acte. Beyond that, a full cheer to the second annual A Night at the Operetta, and long may this stylish new tradition continue!.

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