Bring on the Men: Celebrating the Men of Broadway

Bring on the Men:
Celebrating the Men of Broadway

Metropolitan Room, NYC, October 17, 2016

Reviewed by Randolph B. Eigenbrode for Cabaret Scenes

Kenneth D. Ard
Kenneth D. Ard

Grab-bag Broadway cabarets tend to be fairly hit or miss as theater performers don’t often have the same audience communication that cabaret performers do. Surprisingly, this was not the case at Bring on the Men—a moving night of performances, each unique in point of view, that benefited the AJ Project. The evening featured composer/pianist Yasuhiko Fukuoka as M.


Anthony Wayne (Pippin) opened with an R&B-flavored “Corner of the Sky” (Stephen Schwartz), earnest with a strong command of the room,  while James Harkness (The Color Purple) engaged in a poignant, multilayered “Let Her Grace Lift Me Up” (Stephen Bray/Brenda Russell/Allee Willis), cut from The Color Purple. Harkness has a steady drive in his performances with a playful musicality that straddles pop and musical theater.

David Baida (On Your Feet) fashioned “You and I” (Leslie Bricusse), a gem from 1969’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips, into a moving moment between father and son, all with his lush lyric tenor. And the impish Michael Longoria (Jersey Boys) brought pyrotechnics with a fabulous “Maria” (Stephen Sondheim/Leonard Bernstein), balancing between chest and heavenly falsetto. Stanley Martin (Aladdin), expressive-hands master, went for playful with a spirited “Moondance” (Van Morrison), and Charles Wallace (Amazing Grace) dazzled with a dramatic “Nowhere Left to Run” (Christopher Smith), particularly effective with his booming baritone.

But it was Kenneth D. Ard’s (Smokey Joe’s Café) master class in vocals and performing that was the highlight. A slight man with an understated charm, Ard took off his glasses at the beginning of “’Round Midnight” (Thelonious Monk/Bernie Hanighen) and let loose in a jazz vocal that was at times playful, others showy, but always appropriate.

He became the embodiment of the moody nature of the piece and negotiated working the audience and working the musical phrases with a virtuosity rarely seen.

If theater cabarets tend to be hit or miss, this one was definitely a hit and hopefully inspires others to bring on the same.

Randolph B. Eigenbrode

Randolph is the newest addition to the writing staff at Cabaret Scenes. He is a cabaret teacher, previously teaching with legend Erv Raible, and his students have gone on to success in the field with sold-out shows and many awards. He is also a director and that, combined with a knowledge of the art form and techniques that cabaret performing encompasses, makes him love reviewing NYC’s cabaret scene. When not catching the Big Apple’s crazy talent, Randolph loves 1970s variety shows, mall Chinese food, Meryl Streep films and a good cold glass of pinot grigio.