54 Sings Broadway’s Jukebox Musicals

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54 Sings Broadway’s Jukebox Musicals

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, July 21, 2016

Reviewed by Joel Benjamin for Cabaret Scenes

54-Sings-Bway's-Jukebox-Musicals-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212Scott Siegel, in his epic quest for total control over NYC’s entertainment, has begun presenting a sub-genre of his 54 Sings series: 54 Sings Broadway’s Jukebox Musicals. As usual, the show was a sparkling success, combining great songs, fabulous singers and Siegel’s knowledgeable narration.

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Most represented, with three songs, was Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. The first two—“Beautiful” (King) and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (King/Gerry Goffin)—were sung with great passion by Rebecca LaChance who had been in the show. Farah Alvin and Douglas Ladnier, a full-voiced duo, reached the stratosphere with “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” (Cynthia Weill/Barry Mann).

A young, starry-eyed Joseph Greenblatt hit all the authentic falsetto notes in his earnest “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” (Bob Crewe/Bob Gaudio) featured in Jersey Boys and sang a sweetly pained “Uptown Girl” (Billy Joel), heard in Movin’ Out.  Rachel Dickson’s bluesy “Fools Fall in Love” (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller) was quite moving.

Motown: The Musical provided “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” (Norman Whitfield/Eddie Holland).  Law Terrell Dunford began with an emotional blast that powered the song till its last note.

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  Similarly emotionally charged were Alvin’s renditions of “Don’t Cry Out Loud” (Peter Allen and Carole Bayer Sager, a hit for Melissa Manchester) used in The Boy from Oz, “The Winner Takes It All” (Benny Anderson/Björn Ulvaeus), part of Mamma Mia! and “I (Who Have Nothing)” (Carlo Donida/ Giulio “Mogol” Rapetti/Jerry Leieber/ Mike Stoller) included in Smokey Joe’s Café, the “jukeboxiest” of the jukebox musicals.

Ladnier wrapped his rich baritone around a sexy “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer) used in Dream, and ended the show with a forthright and manly “Forever Young” (Bob Dylan) used in The Times They Are A-Changin’

Ross Patterson, Siegel’s trusted musical director, provided the rich accompaniment.

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.