Review - Broadway Originals
"I want you to know that the most exciting part I've received recently is my new knee."
That's how Tammy Grimes greeted the Town Hall audience on Sunday as she braced herself on a walker in her first public performance since replacement surgery; singing a trio from her Tony-winning stint 50 years ago as The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Her pipes still strong and expressive, that unique timbre once again brought tenderness to "My Own Brass Bed" and optimistic verve to her signature march, "I Ain't Down Yet." Sandwiched between them was "I'll Never Say No," which was introduced by her leading man, Harve Presnell. ("I'm going to sing Harve's song in Harve's honor... in Harve's key.")
Such moments of nostalgia and excitement have become expected at Broadway Originals, traditionally one-third of Town Hall's Broadway Cabaret Festival. Now in its seventh year, the annual trio of concerts created, written and hosted by Scott Siegel will continue on October 22nd with a concert by Elaine Stritch and conclude with A Tribute to Judy Garland and the Art of American Dance, featuring Lorna Luft and Susann Stroman, on October 28th.
This edition of the show, directed by Scott Coulter, stretched back as far as 1958, with Yvonne Constant giving her rousing rendition, in both French and English, of a popular tune she performed in La Plume de Ma Tante, "One of Those Songs." In another classic re-creation, Lorraine Serabian ended the concert with her thrilling "Life Is" from Zorba. Earlier on, she explained how she was originally a chorus member who was understudying the role of The Leader when the show was in rehearsals, but was graduated to her featured part by the first out of town preview. Now of the age where should could play Zorba's leading lady, Serabian gave a saucy performance of a number introduced in the show by Maria Karnilova, one of Kander and Ebb's great story-telling songs, "No Boom Boom."
Barnum's Marianne Tatum displayed her still-lovely soprano with "Love Makes Such Fools of Us All," and vamped comically with "L'Amour, Toujours L'Amour" from her Drama Desk nominated performance in The Three Musketeers.
Though the great impressionist Marilyn Michaels is not especially known for musical theatre, she did star in the national tour of Funny Girl and belted out a socko "Don't Rain On My Parade." She followed with a pair of hilarious routines from her gig in Catskills On Broadway, where she sang Rogers and Hart's "Manhattan" with a series of pin-point impersonations (Dinah Shore, Joan Rivers, Diana Ross, Bette Midler and even Jackie Mason) and performed a condensed version of The Wizard of Oz, mimicking Judy Garland, Bert Lahr, Billie Burke and, of course, the representatives of The Lollipop Guild.
A pair of trios were reunited. Crazy For You's Manhattan Rhythm Kings (Tripp Hanson, Brian M. Nalepka and Hal Shine) lent their harmonies once again for "Bidin' My Time" and "The Real American Folk Song Is a Rag." Caroline, Or Change composer Jeanine Tesori temporarily replaced music director John Fischer at piano to accompany her musical's "Radio Ladies" (Ramona Keller, Marva Hicks and understudy Vanessa A. Jones) in "Salty Tears" after recalling how director George C. Wolfe used to tease her about her "Church Lady" singing voice when she played new songs for him. Their performance was dedicated to the beloved Broadway performer, the late Alice Playten.