54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits!

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54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits!

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, November 30, 2019

Reviewed by Joel Benjamin

Scott Siegel

Scott Siegel (pictured) never seems to run out of ideas in his recurring shows, including 54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits! The set list of the most recent edition featured songs from 1920s operettas through today’s musicals.

Operatic tenor John Easterlin filled the room to the rafters with his voice—the kind of voice, unaided by electronic manipulation, that vibrates against your face. The opening number, “Wanting You” from The New Moon (Sigmund Romberg/Oscar Hammerstein II) and the closing number, “Without a Song” from Great Day (Vincent Youmans/William Rose/Edward Eliscu) were thrilling in their power despite the antiquity of the material.

The talented, handsome Drinkwater Brothers shone in several numbers. Matthew’s “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story (Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim) was bold yet thoughtful, and John showed his delightfully lunatic side in the very difficult “Betrayed” from The Producers (Mel Brooks). Together they made the perfect pair in singing “You’re Nothing Without Me” from City of Angels (Cy Coleman/David Zippel) in which an author duets with his fictional creation.

Three fine young female singers displayed enormous talent in putting across their songs: Luana Psaros went from the over-the-top bravura of “I’m the Greatest Star” from Funny Girl (Jule Stye/Bob Merrill) to the anguished “Breathe” from Lin Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights. Emily Janes similarly displayed her range in the anguished “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables (Claude-Michel Schönberg/Alain Boubil/Jean-Marc Natel/Herbert Kretzmer) to the ditzy comedy of “Whatever Happened to My Part (Diva’s Lament)” from Monty Python’s Spamalot (John Du Prez/Eric Idle). Liane Marie Dobbs went from a sexy-flirty “Hey, Big Spender” from Sweet Charity (Cy Coleman/Dorothy Fields) (performed slithering through the audience) to a passionate “As Long as He Needs Me” from Oliver! (Lionel Bart).

Theater veteran Martin Vidnovic sang a thoughtful “What Kind of Fool Am I?” from Stop the World, I Want to Get Off (Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley) and a painfully wistful “September Song” from Knickerbocker Holiday (Kurt Weill/Maxwell Anderson).

Siegel, as usual, was the perfect host/narrator, providing juicy tidbits about the songs and the participants; also as usual, he had fine musical support, this time from Ron Abel.

Joel Benjamin

A native New Yorker, Joel was always fascinated by musical theater. Luckily, he was able to be a part of seven Broadway musicals before the age of 14, quitting to pursue a pre-med degree, which led no where except back to performing in the guise of directing a touring ballet troupe. Always interested in writing, he wrote a short play in high school that was actually performed, leading to a hiatus of nearly 40 years before he returned to writing as a reviewer. Writing for Cabaret Scenes has kept him in touch with world filled with brilliance.