BWW Reviews: The Engeman's Ongoing Broadway Concert Series - Always A Thrilling Night
The ongoing Broadway concert series at Northport's stunning John W. Engeman Theatre is truly an event not to be missed. Broadway's best come together for a night of songs and stories about their careers.
The stellar cast this time consisted of Robert Creighton (Anything Goes, Lion King), Leslie Odom, Jr. (NBC's Smash, Leap Of Faith), Nancy Opel (Memphis, Fiddler On The Roof, many others), Brad Oscar (Addams Family, The Producers), and Dan'Yelle Williamson (Memphis, Lion King).
To start off the evening, producer and host Stephen DeAngelis had Musical Director and Accompanist Jon Balcourt perform the overture from Camelot, which was part of The Engeman's season last year. Their production went right into the story and did not play the overture, so Stephen wanted to make sure it was heard.
First up was Robert Creighton who made time to be at the Engeman before he begins rehearsals for the upcoming revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. His first selection was "I Get A Kick Out Of You" from Anything Goes as he played Purser in the recent revival by the Roundabout Theatre Company. This was fun to hear him sing as it is done by Reno Sweeny in the show. One of the more recognizable numbers was Rob's performance of "Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat" from Guys And Dolls. He was in the production at the Paper Mill theatre. Rob also chose to recreate his time as Amos from the current long-running revival of Chicago by singing "Mr. Cellophane", complete with white gloves and the famous teetering back and forth motion. For his final performance, he put together a medley of "Give My Regards To Broadway" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy". This was perfect to celebrate Rob's recent album "Ain't We Got Fun!" that came out earlier this year.
The fabulous Dan'Yelle Williamson was actually a last minute addition. The woman who was originally scheduled had an emergency out of state, so Dan'Yelle stepped in. Her first selection was "Colored Woman" from Memphis. She was one of the understudies for Felicia, so she performed this beautifully. Dan'Yelle's next selection was a jazz standard entitled "It Don't Mean A Thing" that has been performed by Mel Torme', Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and many others. She also chose "I Can Cook", which was received very enthusiastically by the sold out crowd. For her final performance, she did a spectacular rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing".
Next up was the fantastic Leslie Odom, Jr. currently on NBC's "Smash". Of course, he's also been on the stage in Leap Of Faith and Rent. For his first selection, he chose one of his favorite songs entitled "Sarah", a little known Frank Wildhorn piece. Next, he put together a medley of Jersey Boys tunes as he was in a production at La Jolla. With the added accompaniment of his fiancée, Nicolette Robinson, he performed "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Cry For Me", and "Walk Like A Man". They were adorable on stage together. For his third selection, he performed "Mr. Bojangles". This was originally done by Jerry Jeff Walker, but has also been done by many artists throughout the years. And for his final selection, Leslie did a beautiful A Capella version of "For All We Know" done in past by Donny Hathaway among others.
Without question, the most hilarious performance of the evening went to Nancy Opel. Her rendition of "Privilege to Pee" from her Tony nominated role of Penelope Pennywise in Urinetown left the audience roaring for several moments following her performance. At the end of the first half of this show, Nancy did the duet "Do You Love Me?" from Fiddler On The Roof with Brad Oscar (they have both been in Fiddler with Nancy in the 2004 Broadway revival). Nancy was also part of the original cast of Evita understudying Eva Peron, so it was fitting she also chose to sing "Rainbow High". To close out her performances, Nancy selected "As We Stumble Along" from The Drowsy Chaperone.
And last, but absolutely not least, the fantastic Brad Oscar started his performances with "My Simple Christmas Wish" by composer David Alan Friedman. This is another one that left the boisterous audience roaring for several moments after the song ended. Brad was also part of a regional production of Barnum, which hasn't been on Broadway in thirty years. It was refreshing to hear him sing a selection from this show called "There Is A Sucker Born Every Minute". To end the two-act concert, Brad chose to sing "Betrayed" from The Producers, a show he has long been associated with. Not only was he part of the original Broadway cast, he took the show on tour, Las Vegas, and London's West End.
One of the best things about the ongoing Broadway concert series at the John W. Engeman Theatre in Northport, Long Island, is the randomness and diversity. You never know who is going to show up or what they're going to sing. The audience is wonderfully diverse as well. From children to grandparents, there is certainly something for everyone.