Honoring Barbara Siegel: Part Two

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Honoring Barbara Siegel: Part Two

Metropolitan Room, NYC, January 27, 2016

Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors for Cabaret Scenes

Barbara-Siegel+-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212When one show is not enough to handle all those who wish to perform for the honoree, what do you do? You schedule a second show. That’s just what producer Scott Siegel did at the Metropolitan Room creating, for his wife, Barbara Siegel, a doubleheader with two different lineups, one show following the other, honoring her contributions to the theater.

Recently, Barbara received a Drama Desk Award for her work as Chairwoman of the Drama Desk Nominating Committee, including 12 years as Chair.  It is no exaggeration to say that in a year, Barbara saw hundreds of shows, critiquing them and selecting nominees in various categories. She has met, encouraged and influenced entertainers and, on this winter evening, a bevy of award-nominated theater performers came out to sing their praises to her. This event not only honored Barbara, but, at her request, was a benefit for The Actors Fund.

The first show was sold out and I reviewed the second show in a cabaret room that was close to brimming. The line-up began with Josh Young’s (Amazing Grace) tender rendition of “Maria” from West Side Story. “The most beautiful sound I ever heard….” and then came the twist. Instead of continuing with “Maria,” Young inserted “Barb Siegel” and right then we knew we were in for a great show. 

More laughs came with Julie Halston, who read beauty tips from a column in Harper’s Bazaar in her inimitable wry way. Christina Bianco, a pint-sized singer with killer belt and a talent for impersonation delivered “Broadway Baby” with the voices of Bernadette Peters, Julie Andrews, Patti LuPone, Streisand, Midler and more. John Bolton illustrated the witty phrasing in Cole Porter’s magniloquent “They Couldn’t Compare to You” and Jim Brochu’s “No Time at All,”  filled with his heart and humor, had the audience singing along.

Most singers delivered a few words of appreciation to Barbara, emphasizing her warmth and generosity, and following with a relevant song. Alison Fraser brought out the fact that Barbara is “Young at Heart” and others sang particular favorites of the honoree, like Stephanie D’Abruzzo’s “A Way Back to Then,” Margo Seibert’s “Flight,” and Bob Stillman’s lovely “Happiness.” With tongue in cheek, Philip Boykin commented that everyone wants to hear him sing “Ol’ Man River” in his deep bass chest tones and, yes, he was correct there. Julia Murney arrived back from Hawaii just in time to knock out “But the World Goes ‘Round.” Emily Skinner’s finale to the show was a stunning rendition of “No One Is Alone.” Pianist Ross Patterson skillfully accompanied the performers with their various arrangements.

Barbara Siegel expressed her appreciation for the tribute and her love for the theater and its performers. Special thanks went to her husband, Scott, who served as Emcee/producer of this show and was the force behind the evening. Tears came to her eyes as she talked of his heart and dedication that are a signature in all his productions. They were certainly evident in this tribute.

Elizabeth Ahlfors

Born and raised in New York, Elizabeth graduated from NYU with a degree in Journalism. She has lived in various cities and countries and now is back in NYC. She has written magazine articles and published three books: A Housewife’s Guide to Women’s Liberation, Twelve American Women, and Heroines of ’76 (for children). A great love was always music and theater—in the audience, not performing. A Philadelphia correspondent for Theatre.com and InTheatre Magazine, she has reviewed theater and cabaret for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia City News. She writes for Cabaret Scenes and other cabaret/theater sites. She is a judge for Nightlife Awards and a voting member of Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle.