Rony Goffer and Adi Kozlovsky: Miss Cast Me

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Rony Goffer and Adi Kozlovsky

Miss Cast Me

Chelsea Table + Stage, NYC, March 17, 2024

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Rony Goffer and Adi Kozlovsky

Rony Goffer and Adi Kozlovsky have quite a few things in common: both were born in Israel; both have big, powerhouse voices and personalities to match; and both are “plus sized,” by their own definition. Much of their show dealt with the fact that there are very few Broadway musicals, outside of Hairspray, that have leading roles specifically conceived for women of their physique. Accordingly, Miss Cast Me explored roles they would like to play but would most likely never be given. This led to a lively if not totally polished show.

They began with an excellent rendition of “Nowadays” (John Kander/Fred Ebb, from Chicago) which had the two of them singing as one, playing kazoos, and giving a suggestion of Bob Fosse choreography; it was smart and charming cabaret. After a far more dramatic delivery of the “mom’s duet” “Anybody Have a Map?” (Justin Paul/Benj Pasak, from Dear Evan Hanson), they called on their childhood backgrounds for a hypnotic performance of “Omar Sharif” (David Yazbeck, from The Band’s Visit). Then, they each took contrasting solo turns. Kozlovsky offered a hysterical “Ven You Got It, Flaunt It” (Mel Brooks, from The Producers), complete with a loopy Scandinavian accent. Goffer offered an emotionally devastating “I’ll Be Here” (Adam Gwon, from Ordinary Days).

Then came one of several clever mashups of related but differing songs. A blend of two songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman: “Part of Your World” (The Little Mermaid) and “Somewhere That’s Green” (Little Shop of Horrors) worked surprisingly well. They presented two very different women—Goffer as innocent Ariel and Kozlovsky as the more worldly Audrey, who both wanted to escape their current situations. Again, this was smart cabaret. Returning to their roots, they again joined forces on “When You Believe” (Stephen Schwartz, from The Prince of Egypt); it fetured beautiful harmony, and it was sung in both English and Hebrew. Goffer surprised with a well-handled comic patter number about the perils of auditioning, “What’s Gonna Happen” (David Yazbeck, from Tootsie). After that came one of the misfires of the evening, a revival of the Streisand/Garland mashup (maybe the original mashup) of “Get Happy” (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) and “Happy Days Are Here Again” (Milton Ager/Jack Yellen). This material has certainly been overdone, the singers were placed too far upstage for those seated at peripheral tables to get a good view, and it was quickly abandoned when they launched into “A Piece of Sky” (Michel Legrand/Alan and Marilyn Bergman, from Yentl). This was just one of those moments that would have been improved by a knowledgeable director.

The singers had solid support from music director/pianist Drew Wutke, along with bassist Jonathan Michel and drummer Nicole Patrick. The strong arrangements were provided by Wutke and Amir Shoenfeld. They evidently created a clever “social media pop medley” that combined more than a dozen songs to tell the story of the singers’ reception on various social media platforms. There were two more mashups: one of “The Last Midnight” (Stephen Sondheim, from Into the Woods) and “No Good Deed” (Schwartz, from Wicked), and one of several power ballads from The Greatest Showman (Pasek/Paul). Kozlovsky became serious when she tunred “She Used to Be Mine” (Sara Bareilles from Waitress) into a fine emotional moment. The two of them did well with the clever “Single Man Drought” (Jimmy Roberts/Joe DiPietro, from I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change). All in all, it was a fun evening that could have benefited from more focused patter and better staging, both easily provided by a director’s viewpoint.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."