Camp Broadway: Before Broadway

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Camp Broadway

Before Broadway

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, January 28, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Fifteen aspiring performers, ages 18 – 22, made their New York debuts as part of Before Broadway in front of an audience of friends and family, casting directors, and talent managers. The show, assembled in three days, was impressive in just that there were so few hiccups along the way.

Director/choreographer Holly Raye and music director Nissia Kahie chose the material carefully so that the songs were suited not only to their ages—she also concentrated on contemporary shows—with only one classic song slipping in (“A Lovely Night” from Cinderella). That was a bit of a shame since it led to a repetitious sound and some forced belting when some of the performers suggested they would be more comfortable with material from the Golden Age.

There was also a sameness in that there were 13 female vocalists and only two males, leading to most of the women appearing in various trios.

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Host Adam Kantor was charming and kept the show moving, although his introductions of the performers occasionally strayed into the Miss America format.

A few of the performers certainly stood out: Samantha Raun, who could be mistaken for Karen Mason’s daughter, possessed tremendous confidence while delivering “My Strongest Suit”; Sara Wasserman projected pure joy with “Here I Am”; Cecilia Bracey demonstrated powerful stage presence sharing “If the World Should End”; and Faith Wiship brought intensity to “There’s a Fine, Fine Line.” Also participating were Hannah Clark, Ruthanne Evans, Caitlyn Freeman, Treston Henderson, Anna Meyer, Leah Prestogeorge, Marife Quesada, Laney Rodriguez, Gabbie Sansone, Annika Summer and Zach Williams. No doubt we will see some of them again in future productions.

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Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."