54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits

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54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, December 29, 2019

Reviewed by Ron Forman

Francesca Capetta

The 35th edition of Scott Siegel’s monthly series, 54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits, proved that Siegel has been able to gather a different cast of wonderful vocalists each month for almost three years to sing the very best songs Broadway has to offer. His introductory comments to each number were especially informative, interesting, and amusing for this edition. Music director Mark Hartman’s arrangements and work on piano melded beautifully with each of the performers and their songs.

William Michals opened the show with the booming voice necessary to effectively perform “They Call the Wind Maria.” He was followed by the first Asian-American, Ali Ewolt, to play the role of Christine in The Phantom of the Opera. She displayed the wonderful soprano that won her the role with “Think of Me.” She also performed “Love Look Away” beautifully. Tom Wopat was accompanied by his music director, Tedd Firth, for “A New Town Is a Blue Town,” which I learned was a Frank Loesser song inserted into the score of Pajama Game. Wopat performed a lively animated “Jet Song” featuring a remarkable piano solo by Firth.

Jerome Kern originally wrote the melody for “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” for a tap-dance number and, then as a march, Hartman amusingly played it as a march before Cooper Grodin’s offered a very effective stylized performance of the song. The beautiful Francesca Capetta (pictured)sang a very sexy version of “I Love Paris.” Scott Coulter was moving and effective on “I’ll Be Seeing You,” including the seldom-heard verse. Michals returned for a dynamic and kinetic “All I Care About,” getting a standing ovation for holding the final note on the word “love” beyond any expectation. Oakley Boycott stopped the show with her very dramatic “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).” Jillian Louis was particularly passionate with two dramatic songs, “Maybe This Time” and “Time Heals Everything.” Coulter closed the show very appropriately with “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”

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.