Review - Broadway Originals & Grace
"We should not do a show more often," quipped Ryan Silverman as he an Jill Paice took in the appreciative applause of the Town Hall audience before even singing a note of the Broadway musical they were expected to star in this season, Rebecca. Host Scott Siegel had just recapped the story of the show's numerous delays, fake investors, missing funds and the fact that an estimated 150 theatre professions had either turned down work or stopped seeking immediate employment because of their expectation to be working on Broadway by Christmas.The pair grandly tore into three selections of what is apparently a dark, gothic, power ballad heavy musical: "Help Me Face The Night," "Free Now," and "Oh, My God." Ryan tried setting up that final song by explaining at what point it appears in the story before realizing he didn't know.
Sunday's concert, created by Siegel with music direction by John Fischer, was the 8th edition of Broadway Originals, a favorite feature of Town Hall's Annual Broadway Cabaret Festival, which traditionally presents musical theatre stars who have actually made it to opening night, singing selections from roles they either originated on Broadway or played in the first company of a Broadway revival.
In past years Broadway Originals has trotted out some beloved older performers like George S. Irving, Anita Gillette and Nancy Dussault, recreating triumphs from fifty or sixty years ago, but this year the accent was on youth and more recent productions. The most senior of the citizens was the vivacious and still very active Tovah Feldshuh, swiveling her hips to the title song of Sarava, the 1979 musical that, before Spider-Man, was the model of a show that tried avoiding the critics by continually delaying its opening with a then incredable 38 previews.
Perhaps the least familiar face on stage was Kelli Rabke, who played the narrator in the 1993 revival of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and fiercely belted out "Jacob and Sons" with sizzling power.Tonya Pinkins displayed supurb vocal dexterity and dynamics in interpreting Duke Ellington and Don George's "I Ain't Got Nothing But The Blues," which she sang in the Harlem version of Twelfth Night called Play On!, and showed why she's one of musical theatre's top dramatic actresses with "Underwater" from Caroline, or Change.
Another outstanding musical theatre actress, Barbara Walsh, sang her Big solo about clinging to parental moments, "Stop, Time," and honored us with a sparklingly wry "The Ladies Who Lunch."
Alice Ripley repeated her Next To Normal highlight, "I Miss The Mountains" and assumed both roles for Side Show's "Who Will Love Me As I Am?"
Elizabeth Stanley seriously steamed up the place while barely moving with an intensely sexual "Fever," which she soloed in Million Dollar Quartet, and them assumed all three roles for Company's Andrew Sisters-styled "You Can Drive A Person Crazy," which helped make the character seem truly bonkers.
Mandy Gonzalez reminded us of both the lows and highs of her career, singing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" from Dance of the Vampires - with the concert's director, Scott Coulter, filling in for Michael Crawford with backup vocals - and "Breathe" from In The Heights.