Review - All Singin', All Dancin' & The Columbine Project
The star of Town Hall's 3rd Annual All Singin', All Dancin', the traditional finale to the Scott Siegel-created Broadway Summer Festival, didn't take the stage until the end of curtain calls, but his vibrant presence was felt throughout the evening.As in past years, the evening was given to one up-and-coming choreographer to create a song and dance revue utilizing classic (and some terrific not-so-classic) musical theatre songs performed by some of today's top flight stage and cabaret performers. This time the honors went to Josh Prince, who had just made his Broadway choreographing debut last season with Shrek. With Siegel and Prince co-directing, the evening featured a sampler of musical theatre dance styles.
Karen Murphy got us started with a lilting "I Wish You A Waltz" (from Ballroom) which was interpreted in a light balletic style reminiscent of Agnes De Mille by the show's core dance ensemble: Cameron Adams, Erica Mansfield, Ali Solomon, Amber Stone, Joe Komara, Michael Mindlin, Bobby Pestka and Ryan Worsing. This group would be featured all evening in routines as diverse as shimming (naturally) to Lieber & Stoller's "Teach Me How To Shimmy," playing sexual violent couples in a traditional chair dance (to Marilyn Maye's plaintive vocals of "Mean To Me"), miming classic film moments to Grand Hotel's "I Want To Go To Hollywood" and, in a very funny finale, refusing to respond the "Broadway Rhythm" cry of "Gotta Dance!"
The subtle differences between the comic dance styles of British music hall and American vaudeville were demonstrated when Jeffrey Schecter and Jessica Lee Goldyn's adorably eccentric moves to "Me and My Girl" were eventually followed by the knockabout show-biz of Schecter and Kevin Bernard's "Be a Performer!" And the Astaire Award winning Spencer Liff (a last-minute replacement performing with only 3 hours of rehearsal) displayed enchanting charisma to go along with muscular ballet moves suggestive of Jerome Robbins; first in a comical turn as Marilyn Maye's pupil for Hello, Dolly!'s "Dancing" and later in a gorgeous pairing with Alexander Gemignani, as the vocalist sang an unamplified "Lonely Town" while the dancer interpreted the lyric of On The Town's most heart-tugging ballad. Earlier in the evening, Gemignani (who only seems to get to show his hearty comic chops in Scott Siegel's shows), brought down the house with stoic cockiness singing the title song from the revue, Leading Men Don't Dance.
KendRick Jones, who I swear must be a reincarnation of both Nicholas Brothers, gave a masterful rhythm-tap solo for "I Wanna Be A Dancin' Man," including his signature move where he seems to glide across the floor on tiny water jets. While Town Hall audiences have been marveling at his intricate moves and clean taps for severAl Siegel shows, Jones is also developing into a much more confident singer; a quality that will hopefully gain the young performer notoriety as a leading man who certainly does dance.
Speaking of confident singers, joining the evergreen Marilyn Maye, the delightful Alexander Gemignani and the elegant Karen Murphy (who got to bust out her silliness with the Gershwin spoof, "Just Another Rumba") was the clarion-voiced Liz Callaway, whose sexy, lightly-jazzed "Cheek To Cheek," was followed by her sweet and shy "Lion Tamer" (audiences still chuckle when she sings the line about getting along with cats, remembering her lengthy sting as Grisabella at the Winter Garden) and an enrapturing "The Music That Makes Me Dance."