Broadway by the Year: 1928 and 1935

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Broadway by the Year: 1928 and 1935

The Town Hall, NYC, February 25, 2019

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

Scott Siegel
Photo: Maryann Lopinto

1928 and 1935 were only seven years apart, but the condition of the United States and the type of music heard on Broadway changed dramatically during those seven years. 1928 marked the end of the Roaring Twenties, and in 1935, the nation was in the depths of the Great Depression. Broadway musicals in those two years were a reflection of each era. Scott Siegel’s (picture) cast of marvelous singers and truly amazing dancers captured the essence of those years. Siegel’s always interesting and informative introductory comments put each number in its appropriate historical context.

Act I, featuring the songs of 1928, opened spectacularly with Danny Gardner’s singing and tap dancing joined by the Broadway By the Year Dance Troupe, which included six Rockettes showing off their synchronized leg kicks. That year also marked the end of the operetta era on Broadway and two beautiful voices, belonging to John Esterlin and Ali Ewoldt, joined to perform unplugged (no microphone) “Wanting You” as it was done in The New Moon. Chuck Cooper offered a crowd pleasing “Making Whoopee.” Emily James and Kyle Selig brought back the sound of the Jazz Age with “Love Me or Leave Me” and “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love.” Quentin Earl Darrington returned to the score of New Moon with his unplugged “Softly As in a Morning Sunrise.” Easterlin lead the Broadway By the Year Chorus in a stirring “Stouthearted Men.” The closing number by the chorus was the hilarious Groucho Marx number from Animal Crackers, “Hello, I Must Be Going.”

Act II, featuring the songs of 1935, opened with Cooper belting “I Got Plenty of Nothin’.” Erika Hemmington displayed a lovely soprano on “Red Sails in the Sunset.” Frank Sinatra once remarked that Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things” is one of the saddest songs ever written, and Selig’s soft and slow performance captured that emotion. Gardner’s tap dancing dazzled, as he led the dance troupe in “Got a Bran’ New Suit.
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” Ewoldt stopped the show with her breathtakingly beautiful unplugged “Summertime.” Cooper followed with another song from Porgy and Bess—a very kinetic and expressive “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” The vastly entertaining evening of great singing and wonderful dancing ended with song-and-dance man Gardner leading the dance troupe in “Begin the Beguine.
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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.