Broadway by the Year: The 1940s

| March 31, 2017

Broadway by the Year

The 1940s

The Town Hall, NYC, March 27, 2017

Reviewed by Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes

Karen Ziemba
Photo: Maryann Lopinto

Even with a reliable format and a history of outstanding productions, it never hurts to change up a program now and again. Producer/writer/director/host Scott Siegel has done that with this edition of Broadway by the Year – The 1940s. In addition to a cast of able singers, there were dancers Heather and Lou, and Kendrick Jones and, most amazing of all, Steve Herbst, aka “The Whistler.” Herbst had the audience completely mesmerized with his uncanny talent, whistling a nuanced, on-pitch “Some Enchanted Evening” (Rodgers and Hammerstein).

In the mainstay of song, a highpoint came with the singularly talented Klea Blackhurst. With her natural belt, she is often called upon to sing a Merman number. In tackling “I’ve Still Got My Health” (Cole Porter), Blackhurst nicely toned down her delivery, foregoing a full-bore Merman approach. With “That’s Him” (Kurt Weill/Ogden Nash), she showed her capabilities with a quiet, sensitive interpretation. In a switcheroo, Karen Ziemba (pictured) sang Merman’s rousing “I Got the Sun in the Morning” (Irving Berlin). With her resonant, clear vocalizations, she knows how to modulate and carry a song’s arc to a dazzling conclusion, which she impressively accomplished in “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” (Burton Lane/E.Y. Harburg). By sharp contrast, Lesli Margherita falls into that unfortunate category of singers who believe the louder the belt, the better. Her various monochromatic renditions included “Come Rain or Come Shine” (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer).

Kendrick Jones, an amazingly talented tap dancer, demonstrated he can also sing, with a sweet, if not powerful, voice on “Easy Does It” (Harold Rome, from The Little Dog Laughed, a show that closed before making it to Broadway). Baritone Ben Davis, who possesses a classic stage bearing in the mold of leading men such as John Raitt or Richard Kiley, performed two Rodgers & Hammerstein selections: “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin,’” with energetic bits of business and a strong, unplugged “This Nearly Was Mine,” which would have benefited by omitting the slight French accent. Another BBTY change-up came via Daniel Reichard who sang another South Pacific number, Nellie Forbush’s “A Cockeyed Optimist” – a non-gender- specific number – with spirit. Among his other offerings, “Old Devil Moon” (Lane and Harburg), with dancers Heather and Lou, was among his more successful efforts.

Playing the music of this Golden Age of Musicals was Musical Director and pianist Ross Patterson, whose luxuriant technique always evokes a one-man orchestra. Randy Landau played bass and Jared Schonig drums.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Cabaret Reviews, New York City, New York City Cabaret Reviews, Regional

Comments are closed.

Read previous post:
Rena Strober: True Story

Kept the show moving at an energetic pace.