Given that 1982 wasn't even 30 years ago, it's no surprise that the most recent Broadway by the Year edition, The Broadway Musicals of 1982, could be considered a light version of Scott Siegel's annual Broadway Originals concert. Directed by Scott Thompson and with music direction by Ross Patterson, the evening a nice capsule of the early 1980s and all its ups and downs.
And since there were no unplugged numbers (what??!!) during the concert at Town Hall, it was decidedly exciting to hear Stephen Mo Hanan sing the whole "Gus the Theater Cat" from Cats, which he sang (part of) in the original production. Karen Akers sang both "My Husband Makes Movies" and "Be On Your Own" from Nine, perhaps not as thrillingly as she did 29 years ago, but still beautifully. (And seriously, how often do we get to hear icons like Akers recreate songs they introduced on Broadway? Exactly.) And while Liz Callaway didn't originate the role of Grizabella, she played the role on Broadway for years, and her rendition of "Memory" was just lovely.
And there was even a pre-original number: Craig Carnelia accompanied himself on "The Kid Inside" from Is There Life After High School?, his first Broadway musical, offering a rare chance to hear a composer's interpretation of his own work.
Another notable contribution was the addition of the Mark Stuart Dance Theatre, members of whom danced to several numbers throughout the evening with choreography that could only be described as acrobatic. Each number had its own distinct style, though: "Macavity The Mystery Cat" was decidedly sensual, while "Summer in the City" (from Rock 'n' Roll! The First 5,000 Years, an early jukebox musical from the days before jukebox musicals were the exception rather than the rule) was fast-paced, nervous and anxious. "Taking A Chance on Love," which was previously sung in The Broadway Musicals of 1940, was reimagined as a bright and vibrant dance piece, offering a nice example of how many different interpretations a song might have.
A few other notable highlights: Barbara Walsh singing a gentle and poignant "Nothing Really Happened" from Is There Life After High School; Ron Bohmer (looking about as Italian as Conan O'Brien) singing a charming "Guido's Song" from Nine (and backed by several of the ladies...as Guido usually is); Kerry O'Malley singing a powerful "Learn to be Lonely" from the iconic flop A Doll's Life; and Bohmer and Kevin Earley singing a fun "Sobbin' Women" from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
But the sweetest moment was saved for last, as nine-year-old Mercer Patterson (Ross' son, not yet born when the Broadway by the Year series began) serenaded Ron Bohmer with a wonderfully unsentimental and honest "Getting Tall" from Nine. It wasn't the season finale (we still have 1997 to go--and honestly, the Siegels are going to run out of years to cover soon), but it was a lovely little moment of passing the torch, and bringing a new generation into the fold. Here's hoping there are more moments like that for Broadway Musicals of 1997, and in Season 12.