Broadway by the Year: 1954
Town Hall, NY - April 7, 2008
Review by John Kenrick
Scott Siegel's Broadway by the Year concerts at Town Hall have become one of the most reliable pleasures for New York showtune lovers. The latest installment, covering musicals that made their first bow in 1954, was an example of this series at its best -- gifted performers offering fresh, straightforward performances of great Broadway songs. With sixteen performers, this was also the largest Broadway by the Year to date, and I'm happy to report that the audience still felt like guests at a private theatrical party.
- Emily Skinner offering a hilarious "I'd Rather Wake Up By Myself" (By the Beautiful Sea).
- Debbie Gravitte's sultry "Lazy Afternoon" from The Golden Apple contrasted delightfully with her socko "I'm Not at All in Love" (The Pajama Game).
- The luscious Cheyenne Jackson showed what a real singing actor could do with two songs from The Pajama Game; the soaring ballad "Hey There," and the hillbilly spoof "There Once Was a Man," the latter turned into a rip-roaring showstopper with a dazzling assist from the sensational Sierra Boggess. And anyone wondering if the lovely Ms. Boggess can do more than play Mermaids was blown away by her glittering "Windflowers" (The Golden Apple).
- Tap sensation Kendrick Jones tore up the stage in the rarely heard "Slide, Boy, Slide" (House of Flowers).
- Mark Price and Jen Cody rocked the house twice, first with a sprightly "Won't You Charleston With Me?" (The Boyfriend), then a raunchy take on "Hernando's Hideaway" -- both stylishly choreographed by Josh Rhodes.
- Veteran Captain Hook Paul Schoeffler slipped into his black wig and hook one more time to offer a shamelessly campy and thoroughly irresistible "Hook's Waltz."
- The always sensational Harvey Evans was joined by fellow veteran Broadway dancers Bert Michaels and Don Percassie for a riotous "I Won't Grow Up" (Peter Pan).
- Noah Racey debuted his delicious new choreography for a two person version of Pajama Game's "Steam Heat," with an assist from Melinda Sullivan.
- Natalie Belcon offered several numbers, but really came to life when she offered an unplugged rendition of the House of Flowers favorite "A Sleepin' Bee." Liberated from the microphone, she really took off -- sound systems can be the death of great singing!
Add to this the deft accompaniment of Ross Paterson and his Little Big Band, as well as the gentle wit of Scott Siegel's narration, and Broadway By the Year gave its devoted audience another winning evening.