Broadway by the Year: From the Ziegfeld Follies to Moulin Rouge

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Broadway by the Year

From the Ziegfeld Follies to Moulin Rouge

The Town Hall, NYC, May 23, 2022

Reviewed by Ron Forman

Scott Siegel
Photo: Maryann Lopinto

It is truly amazing how Scott Siegel (pictured) can produce a spectacular show featuring wonderful vocalists and dazzling dance numbers for a one-time-only performance. In the previous 20 seasons of Siegel’s Broadway by the Year series, the theme of the show focused on a particular year or time period of Broadway musicals. Instead of that theme, this edition, From the Ziegfeld Follies to Moulin Rouge, took songs from Broadway revues and juke-box musicals, which gave Siegel a wide range from which to choose 18 great and well-known songs. Incredibly, each of the 18 numbers in the show was a show-stopper that elicited loud applause from the audience.
All of the vocalists—John Easterlin, Douglas Ladnier, Melissa Errico, Danny Gardner, Anaïs Reno, Ryan Knowles, Haley Swindal, and Tony Danza—were superb and the songs chosen for them fit their style and sound. As is the case in all of Siegel’s production, his introductory comments to each number were interesting, amusing and brief.

Each vocalist performed either two or three songs, but I will mention one number for each of them. Easterlin opened the show surrounded by a bevy of beautiful Ziegfeld Girls while he thrilled us singing Irving Berlin’s “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody” as it was performed in the 1917 Ziegfeld Follies—unplugged (no microphone). Errico was quite funny describing her family history and her attempts to go on the stage, leading into “Life Upon the Wicked Stage” from Show Boat. Reno’s beautiful sound and ability to scat worked perfectly for “Caravan.” She was ably backed by music director/pianist Ross Patterson’s trio, with Adam Armstrong on bass and Eric Halverson on drums. Knowles’ big booming voice, graceful movement, and the way he dressed made it impossible to take your eyes off of him. His voice was perfect for “Sixteen Tons,” featured in the juke-box musical Million Dollar Quartet. Swindal gave an emotionally charged performance of my own personal favorite Stephen Sondheim song “Losing My Mind.
” Danza began with a hilarious monologue about his mother meeting Frank Sinatra, which led into “How About You,” accompanied by Joe Davidian. Gardner’s choreography produced a truly spectacular closing number to Act I which featured the BBTY dancers as they first tap danced and then ended with syncopated leg kicks à la the Rockettes while Gardner sang “Fascinating Rhythm.” Ladnier closed this wonderful evening of entertainment with a very moving “Forever Young” from The Times They Are Changing.

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.