54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits

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54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, January 8, 2022

Reviewed by Ron Forman

Christina Bianco

The record-breaking 71st edition of Scott Siegel’s twice monthly series 54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits brought together a cast of wonderful vocalists from the Broadway, cabaret, and even the opera stages. In addition, this show included a tap-dancing couple and a guest starring role by YouTube sensation Christina Bianco (pictured). What makes this series unique is that the numbers are performed as if they were actually in the show that they were drawn from. As is always the case, Siegel’s introductory comments are interesting, amusing, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, as when he referred to “On the Street Where You Live” as “Broadway’s greatest stalker song.” Music director Andrew Bourguin’s piano artistry blended smoothly with each vocalist’s style and sound and was a major addition to the show.

Ben Jones opened the show by acting the part of Freddy, including British accent, before delivering a powerful performance of “On the Street Where You Live.” He would return for a very dramatic performance of “Finishing the Hat.” Gabrielle Baker dramatically performed “Not a Day Goes By,” ending very softly. Metropolitan Opera star John Easterlin unplugged (no microphone) held the final note on the word “mine” on “One Alone” from the operetta The Student Prince while the audience cheered. The song-and-dance team of Kelly Sheehan and Bryan Hunt sang and tap danced to “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and “Get Happy.” Siegel went off his usual format to showcase guest star Christina Bianco. Bianco has had millions of views on YouTube of her impressions of many of the greatest divas of today and yesterday. She opened with “Gimme Gimme” and then she reprised song parodies she had performed in Forbidden Broadway.Her right-on impression of Julie Andrews induced laughter and applause.Bianco, having starred in Funny Girl in Paris, in her own voice performed a very moving “The Music that Makes Me Dance” from that score. She closed her set with “Broadway Baby” which included impressions of Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler, and Patti LuPone. John Easterlin does not just sing; his operatic tenor thrills, once again unplugged put a thrilling finish to the show by performing “With a Song in My Heart,” once again breathlessly holding the note on the final word, “you.”

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.