BWW Exclusive: Inside Luminato's 'If I Loved You: Gentlemen Prefer Broadway' with Josh Groban, Boy George, Rufus Wainwright and More!

The concert was an absolute delight. The concept created by Rufus Wainwright was for an evening of Broadway songs usually sung by women in the original source material, either singularly or in a duet, with men singing the female parts. A tricky idea made successful by the gentle and classy humour which was invested in many of the presentations. When sang seriously however, the perspective shifted to become devastatingly touching and unique.
First of all huge kudos to Stephen Oremus who conducted and played with a twenty something piece orchestra that played the gorgeous and impeccable arrangements fantastically well. Of special note is how Oremus himself is a hugely gifted accompanist.
What was perceived at first as a big disappointment was that Andrew Rannells bowed out a couple of days before. However this turned into a huge triumph for Brent Carver (and an enormous thrill for the audience who I don't think missed Rannells for a moment once Brent hit the stage) who replaced him. He literally brought the house down with an endless ovation with his show-stopping rendition of The Music That Makes Me Dance from Funny Girl and also his duet with Rufus Wainwright of Sondheim's A Little Death. I heard someone behind me exclaim to his companion " Now you're seeing and hearing how it should be done!"
Josh Groban and Rufus meshed wonderfully together singing Sondheim's Move On with Rufus doing the Dot vocals and again on If I Loved You from Carousel. Josh displayed his rich and lovely voice singing in his solo Someone Else's Story from Chess though I secretly wished he would of sung My Man to counter-balance Carver's knockout Funny Girl moment. Technically however, I suppose My Man wouldn't be Broadway as it replaced Music That Makes me Dance in the film version.
Counter tenor Brennan Hall wowed the audience singing the female part of All I ask Of You from Phantom Of The Opera with Rufus. Another showstopper. His duet with Rufus of Wunderbar from Kiss Me Kate was a hoot.
Steven Page formerly of the Barenaked Ladies also stopped the show dead with his all guts out and incredibly passionate rendition of As Long As He needs Me, which I now shall never be able to listen to again without thinking of him. Sensational and another showstopper.
Boy George did a very interesting and brave take on My Man's Gone Now from Porgy and Bess but his duet with Rufus of Cole Porter's You're The Top was not particularly successful as his diction was mostly unintelligible. It was Boy's birthday and a cake was wheeled onstage as the audience sang to him.
David Byrne and Ezra Koenig were pleasant presences but added nothing meaningful to the proceedings without a giant assist from Rufus, the real star and raison d'être of the show.
Rufus surprised everyone with his finesse and conviction in the way he sang. He has a sly and wicked humour that peppered throughout the concert to the delight of all and he put all his guests at ease with his relaxed demeanour and charm. The man is a huge talent and effortlessly carried the show .
The evening ended most appropriately and superbly with Rufus being accompanied alone by Oremus on piano, singing a heartfelt and beautiful Can't Help Loving Dat Man. The crowd went wild. What a fantastic evening and what a great beginning to World Pride.
"Extraordinary how potent cheap music is..." Noel Coward-Private Lives
Broadway Legend
I was there, and while it was a pleasant evening and great to see an eclectic mix of stars, if I was to judge the show critically I would say that it was a bit of a mess.

I applaud Rufus Wainwright for the concept (although it’s quite similar to Broadway Backwards) and he did sing well and earnestly for the most part. But the random mix of songs and artists and the amateurish staging belied the caliber of the performers. This was a show in need of a director, someone who could give it shape and structure and direct the performers (who were mostly singers, not actors – and Broadway songs need to be acted as much as sung).

Those well-suited to performing show tunes, such Josh Groban (who sang “If I Loved You,” “Move On” and “Someone Else’s Story”) and Brent Carver performed well, and Steven Page did fine with “As Long As He Needs Me,” but often the songs chosen did not suit the singer and some of the performances (I won’t name names) sounded like amateur night at a karaoke bar.

In the end, a show dedicated to love songs did not sweep one up in feelings of love. More often, it was laughter – with lighthearted numbers like “You’re the Top,” “I Hate Men,” and “I’m Going to Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (“Summer Lovin’” from Grease was a fun encore sing-a-long), but the show mostly failed in its quest to provide “unexpected, entirely enchanting pairs singing about the universality of love.”

Coach Bob knew it all along: you've got to get obsessed and stay obsessed. You have to keep passing the open windows. (John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire)
Updated On: 6/16/14 at 11:41 AM
Broadway Star
Broadway Legend
Coach Bob knew it all along: you've got to get obsessed and stay obsessed. You have to keep passing the open windows. (John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire)
Broadway Legend

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