William Michals: A Baritone on Broadway

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William Michals

A Baritone on Broadway

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, November 12, 2016

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

William Michals
William Michals

In what I consider the Golden Age of Broadway, musicals from the 1940s through the 1960s, musical leading men—Alfred Drake, John Raitt, Robert Goulet and their like—all had big, bold baritone voices. William Michals has a voice and sound that is reminiscent of those magnificent voices of yesteryear.

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He has starred in Broadway and regional productions of many of Broadway’s greatest musicals. His appearance at Feinstein’s/54 Below was his solo cabaret debut. He was particularly effective performing songs from shows that he has previously starred in:  South Pacific, Man of La Mancha and Kiss Me, Kate.

After opening with “Some Enchanted Evening,” Michals did a truly spectacular “They Call the Wind Maria,” that ended with the audience cheering. He delightfully used a Robert Preston-ish voice for The Music Man‘s “The Sadder but Wiser Girl” and was able to get the audience to join in on “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’.”  He was at his charming best with the two numbers from Kiss, Me Kate: a medley of “Were Thine That Special Face” and “Where Is the Life That Late I Led?.” After telling a story of growing up in a family of baritones, Michals dedicated his moving “Ol’ Man River” to his dad. I was fortunate to have seen Michals in a production of Man of La Mancha, a show that I have witnessed with five different leading men, and Michals was second only to originator Richard Kiley in the starring role. His background in the role of Cervantes produced a thrilling closing segment, beginning with dialogue from the show, then  a medley of “Man of La Mancha” and “The Impossible Dream” (“The Quest”).  The encore was what he referred to as the  saddest of songs, “This Nearly Was Mine.”

Ron Forman

Ron Forman has been a Mathematics Professor at Kingsborough Community College for 45 years. In that time, he has managed to branch out in many different areas. From 1977 to 1994 he was co-owner of Comics Unlimited, the third largest comic book distribution company in the USA. In 1999,after a lifetime of secretly wanting to do a radio program, he began his weekly Sweet Sounds program on WKRB 90.3 FM, dedicated to keeping the music of the Great American Songbook alive and accessible. This introduced him to the world of cabaret, which led to his position as a reviewer for Cabaret Scenes.