Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1966-1990

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Broadway by the Year

The Broadway Musicals of 1966-1990

The Town Hall, NYC, May 11, 2015

Reviewed by Joel Benjamin for Cabaret Scenes

William Blake Photo: Russ Weatherford
William Blake
Photo: Russ Weatherford

The unstoppable Scott Siegel continued his 100-years-of-Broadway-musicals theme with his Broadway Musicals of 1966-1990, a period that brought both the jukebox musical and the British invasion. As usual, he gathered an extraordinary cast all backed by the band headed by music director Ross Patterson, whose young son, Mercer, acquitted himself wonderfully in “Mama, a Rainbow” from Minnie’s Boys (Larry Grossman/Hal Hackady).

It’s impossible to comment on all 25 performers, some of whom were last-minute pinch-hitters, so here is a “highlights reel.

Kevin Earley’s “Molasses to Rum” (1776; Sherman Edwards) was passionate and powerful. Jamison Stern showed two sides of his talents: first in a sweetly boyish “The Kite” (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; Clark Gesner); then, as a brave substitute singer in a yearning “Not While I’m Around” (Sweeney Todd; Stephen Sondheim). Carole J. Bufford caught the torchy and slightly slutty tones of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” (Grease; Jim Jacobs/Warren Casey).

Dance was represented by Noah Racey’s delicious tap dance around Gabrielle Stravelli as she sang “Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now” (Ain’t Misbehavin’; Fats Waller/Andy Razaf) and the trio of Danny Gardner, Brent McBeth and Drew Humphrey doing a casually elegant “Nice Work If You Can Get It” (My One and Only; the Gershwins).

The biggest hits in a rich program were “Home” (The Wiz) and “Life Is” (Zorba!; Kander & Ebb). The former was sung by the unprepossessing William Blake (pictured), whose pitch-perfect high tenor and emoting soared past the back of The Town Hall down to the Battery.

The latter, performed by Lorraine Serabian, who sang it in the original cast of Zorba!, simply tore the house down, as if the 47 interim years didn’t exist.

Joel Benjamin

A native New Yorker, Joel was always fascinated by musical theater. Luckily, he was able to be a part of seven Broadway musicals before the age of 14, quitting to pursue a pre-med degree, which led no where except back to performing in the guise of directing a touring ballet troupe. Always interested in writing, he wrote a short play in high school that was actually performed, leading to a hiatus of nearly 40 years before he returned to writing as a reviewer. Writing for Cabaret Scenes has kept him in touch with world filled with brilliance.