The Broadhurst at 100

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The Broadhurst at 100

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, August 16, 2017

Reviewed by Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes

On September 27, 1917 George Bernard Shaw’s play Misalliance inaugurated the new Broadhurst Theatre on West 44th Street. Could anyone then imagine that 100 years later the same venerable edifice would be feted so royally in a nearby cabaret room?
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Much water has flowed over the proverbial dam in those intervening years—and this history was joyously celebrated with an eclectic mix of song, video, and storytelling. First up on the birthday playbill was the presentation of an original (and quite amusing) “Broadhurst at 100” with music and lyrics by Eli Bolin and Mike Pettry, played and sung by Bolin. It then was over to hosts Jennifer Ashley Tepper and Robert W. Schneider to moderate, introduce, and inform with trivia, anecdotes, and observations honoring the grande dame of theaters. At the heart of the festivities was a chronology of musical numbers, sung by a cast with roots in the Broadhurst, bookended by video tributes from Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, whose musical Anastasia currently occupies the building.

High points of song came with Josh Frankin and Carole Demas (the original Sandy), with ensemble, performing Grease’s “Summer Nights.” Don Scardino (accompanied by bass guitarist John Miller) reprised his “Save the People” (Godspell), while Wayne Cilento sang and danced to “Mr. Bojangles” (Fosse).  Remarkably, these last three singers seem untouched by time in their energy and vocal quality.

Lyricist Stephen Cole took the stage with the original Flahooley doll (which he owns), prior to “Here’s to Your Illusions” sung by Ilene Kristen. Jerry Adler told a hilarious story about a very young, guitar-toting Barbra Streisand auditioning for Bravo, Giovanni for a part she didn’t get. Brad Oscar provided a video tribute, and Jason Alexander, also via video, helped run a trivia contest. Other performers shining for the Broadhurst: Jim Brochu with a delightful “The Caper”; Christiane Noll with “The Real American Folk Song (Is a Rag)”; Rebecca Spigelman comically mining “I Love a Cop”; a “Raunchy” Alice Ripley; Marcy Harriell with “Cabaret”; a dramatic Howard McGillin with “Kiss of the Spider Woman”; Sarah Charles Lewis with “Everlasting” and Bonnie Milligan with “Journey to the Past.” Musical director/pianist was Joshua Zecher-Ross, with Ray Kilday and Joseph Wallace each on bass, and Chris Shultz on drums

Note: This review is about the 7 pm performance. The 9:30 performance featured a slightly different cast.
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Marilyn Lester

Marilyn Lester left journalism and commercial writing behind nearly two decades ago to write plays. That branch in the road led to screenwriting, script-doctoring, dramaturgy and producing for the stage. Marilyn has also co-authored, as well as edited, books. It seemed the only world of words she hadn’t conquered was criticism, an opportunity that presented itself via Theater Pizzazz. Marilyn has since sought to widen her scope in this form of writing she especially relishes. Marilyn is a member of the Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild, Women in the Arts and Media and The League of Professional Theater Women.