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Casey Mink



BWW Review: BROADWAY BY THE YEAR Illuminates the Timeless Relationship Between Art and Culture, Paying Tribute to the 1940s
April 13, 2017

At the most recent BROADWAY BY THE YEAR presentation on March 27, at its usual home of the Town Hall, the 1940s was the sent-up decade from which the evening's performers sang. At a time in the country that currently bears striking and cryptic similarity to that grim period of global history, the resonance of the evening's selections rang eerily. Additionally, they also demonstrated how little the relationship between culture and society has changed over the last seven decades.

BWW Review: BROADWAY BY THE YEAR Celebrates the 1920s with Scorching Vocal Performances, Paying Tribute to the Past with Stars of the Present
March 16, 2017

BROADWAY BY THE YEAR, the musical revue series created, written, directed, and hosted by Scott Siegel and which pays tribute to a different era of Broadway composers each program, is a stroke of brilliance. Occurring once a month, each evening is dedicated specifically to one decade of American musical theater, and features some of the most talented stars currently working in American musical theater. The series' most recent installment (and the first of 2017) on February 27 at its usual home, The Town Hall, paid tribute to the 1920s. The decade, which inducted into the theatrical cannon the likes of George and Ira Gershwin and Richard Rodgers, brims with melodically-rich scores including songs of yearning and joviality. The tunes selected for the evening certainly felt of their era; however, put into the hands of such skilled performers as Carolee Carmello, Beth Malone, and Robert Cuccioli (to name a few), they could be heard with fresh and non-cynical ears.

BWW Review: Carmen Cusack Returns to Feinstein's/54 Below with a New Show Demonstrating Her Songwriting Prowess
March 15, 2017

One generally associates megaphones as the staple of high school gym teachers, used to amplify their punitive requests of portly students to run faster. Naturally, Carmen Cusack, the once-unsung supernova who made her craterous impact on Broadway in last season's BRIGHT STAR, subverted preconceived notions. Slowly making her way to the stage, Cusack began her show crooning into the piece of machinery. If the very first notes of your concert will be heard projected via megaphone, well, you'd be wise to make certain you sound exceptional. That, of course, is a non-issue for Cusack. Following a sold-out engagement at Feinstein's/54 Below last summer, the Tony (and now Grammy) nominee returned to the venue for another four-show run on March 8, and was in her usual sublime voice.

BWW Review: 54 Celebrates George Michael at Feinstein's/54 Below Hits a Sour Note of Too-Soon Tackiness
March 17, 2017

'Too soon' is a phrase you often hear in regards to a celebrity passing away. It usually refers to making some sort of joke or cruel remark about them, devoid of the inherent understanding that, in death, celebrities are deserving of unwavering respect, even if that respect eluded them in life. But that 'too soon' doesn't exclusively pertain to displays of disrespect or admonishment; it can also be said of acts derived from a place of good, but that are simply too recent after the deceased has left us to be mined for joy. Case in point: 54 Celebrates George Michael at Feinstein's/54 Below. The two back-to-back shows on March 1 took place just over two months after the icon suddenly passed away on Christmas Day. With the wound of his death still gaping and exposed, this well-intentioned tribute concert ultimately felt contrived and, frankly, tacky, both qualities which Michael himself could not have disembodied further.

BWW Recap: The 32nd Bistro Awards Honor Best of Cabaret, Comedy and Jazz at Gotham Comedy Club
March 14, 2017

At the 32nd Bistro Awards on March 13, produced by Sherry Eaker, attendees hunkered down at Gotham Comedy Club in the hours before a blizzard hit Manhattan to honor the best in the year's cabaret, comedy and jazz performances. Of course, the prospect of a little snow wouldn't deter honorees from coming out, though it did slightly impact the order of the evening's events, shifting the 'grand finale' to the 'grand opening.'

BWW Review: Nikka Graff Lanzarone Steps into the Spotlight, Paying Tribute to Her Role Models in HERO WORSHIP at Feinstein's/54 Below
March 2, 2017

If Nikka Graff Lanzarone was going to make sure of one thing through her Feinstein's/54 Below debut show HERO WORSHIP on February 23, it was that her audience would leave knowing how to properly say her name. Lanzarone, a true-blue triple threat who most recently starred in the Off-Broadway production of SWEET CHARITY, comes from a long line of show business royalty. She, like anyone born and raised on performance, wholly acknowledges the influence of her predecessors (both within and outside of her family) on her genetic and performative makeup. Thus emerged the concept of her solo show. Using the sentient direction of Robbie Rozelle, Lanzarone pieced together through songs and video accompaniment a stroll through her life and burgeoning career, filling the show with exuberance and laughter, vocal prowess and, unexpectedly, a few tears.

BWW Review: Don Scardino Brings Musical Chops and Tales from his Illustrious and Hilarious Career to Feinstein's/54 Below in NOTHING TO HIDE
February 28, 2017

They say, in life, it's all about who you know. Luckily for Don Scardino and his audiences at his two shows at Feinstein's/54 Below on February 18, he has friends in very high places. The show, DON SCARDINO WITH JOHN MILLER: NOTHING TO HIDE, was Scardino's first at the cabaret venue, and the seasoned performer, director, and musician brought a welcomed (though not-so-fresh) air of breezy yesteryear listening--- along with salivating showbiz tales, of course.

BWW Review: Brandon Uranowitz and the Songs of William Finn are a Match Made in Musical Heaven at Feinstein's/54 Below
February 17, 2017

There was a segment in Brandon Uranowitz' debut show at Feinstein's/54 Below on February 8 which culminated in his explanation as to how he remained in the closet to his family for four additional years, following an instance where he had a clear opportunity to come out. The bit was a confluence of storytelling and song involving heaping amounts of gay porn, his family's shared '90s computer, and the William Finn song, 'Whizzer Going Down.' It was entirely emblematic of the evening as a whole. Singing only the music of Finn, composer of IN TROUSERS, MARCH OF THE FALSETTOS, FALSETTOLAND (the latter two combining to become FALSETTOS) and more, the moment was irreverent, hilarious, moving, and ultimately surprising. The same could be said about much of Finn's songbook, frequently titillating with jubilantly-plinking piano, and as easily swelling with devastation and richly sinister melodies. Uranowitz, who himself just concluded his run as the neurotic psychiatrist Mendel in the Broadway revival of FALSETTOS, was up to the task of landing both the colloquial humor and grounded pain of Finn's distinct songwriting style. It cannot be overstated, then, how imperative a skilled musician is in terms of adequately tackling this music. Luckily for Uranowitz (and the audience), he was accompanied by his music director Vadim Feichtner on piano, which it turned out, was all he needed.

BWW Interview: Nikka Graff Lanzarone on Debuting HERO WORSHIP at Feinstein's/54 Below and Performing SWEET CHARITY in the Aftermath of the Election
February 16, 2017

Audiences may know Nikka Graff Lanzarone from her role in the recent Off-Broadway production of SWEET CHARITY, or as the co-creator and host of the Broadway-centric podcast THE ENSEMBLIST, in which she and her co-host Mo Brady delve into each facet of creating a Broadway show with an emphasis on all those names that aren't above the title. Now, the multifaceted talent prepares to make her Feinstein's/54 Below debut on February 23, with a show she's co-created called HERO WORSHIP. Before descending to the sublevel venue, Lanzarone, billing the concert as an "eclectic whirl through the songs and performers who shaped [her] into the human she is," discussed with BroadwayWorld how she found her way into the show conceptually. She also shared details of what it was like to be a part of the feminist interpretation of SWEET CHARITY in the aftermath of the election, and how she hopes her podcast breaks down the stigma of ensemble work on Broadway.

BWW Review: John Early and Kate Berlant Are Pointed, Political and Gut-Busting Hilarious in 555 at Joe's Pub
February 10, 2017

"Millennial" as a descriptor is used with far too much frequency and carries with it connotations that are both unnecessary and inaccurate. However, at the first of a sold-out four-show run at Joe's Pub on January 31, John Early and Kate Berlant were undeniably of their generation.

BWW Review: Nellie McKay Misses Her Mark in A GIRL NAMED BILL at Feinstein's/54 Below
February 6, 2017

Nellie McKay's return to Feinstein's/54 Below went up in smoke. No, literally.

BWW Review: Jill Kargman is the Quintessential New Yorker in her Café Carlyle Debut STAIRWAY TO CABARET
January 30, 2017

Jill Kargman is a pleasant singer. Her voice is lovely, in fact, but that is not why audiences joined her inside the legendary Cafe Carlyle for a string of sold-out performances which began on January 17. No, patrons made their way to the Upper East Side venue on this damp winter evening to hear Kargman's hilarious and often cringe-inducing war stories from her New York City upbringing, through her entrance into show business and Manhattan motherhood. Kargman, whose bawdy humor and unapologetic crudeness undoubtedly had some in the room blushing into their cocktails (her euphemism for the mouth, in particular, is a tickler) saliently strung the show together with influential songs from her past which she deemed 'wildly sexist,' and which she was 're-appropriating as a 42-year-old Jewish female.'

BWW Review: Tracie Thoms Takes the Soulful Route in Feinstein's/54 Below Debut
January 20, 2017

For her two-show debut engagement at Feinstein's/54 Below, the first of which took place on January 11, Tracie Thoms's set list was surprisingly short. In fact, on paper, it looked as though the concert might not even fill an entire hour. It speaks, then, to her performative nature as an equal parts entertainer-singer, that the show actually lasted for a full 90 minutes.

BWW Review: Andrew Rannells, John Mulaney, Nick Kroll, and More Reject Donald Trump's Plea for Antiseptic Theater in A SAFE AND SPECIAL PLACE Benefit
December 24, 2016

Early on the morning of November 19, Donald Trump took to Twitter (as he has a tendency to do) to make the assertion that "The Theater must always be a safe and special place." On December 19, one month to the day after Trump's Broadway-fueled Twitter deluge, Liz Meriwether and Shira Milikowsky put on A SAFE AND SPECIAL PLACE, an evening of works written and performed by some of the theater's best and most promising talents. The event, held within the atmospheric walls of the McKittrick Hotel and which benefited The Trevor Project and Kids in Need of Defense was, as you could guess, anything but what Trump would deem "safe and special."

BWW Review: Husband-Wife Duo Andy Karl and Orfeh Bring Unapologetic Holiday Fun to Feinstein's/54 Below in LEGALLY BOUND
December 23, 2016

Perhaps you have attended a wedding and, despite repeated refusal, you are forced by your date or young family member to get up on the dance floor. You moan and groan and detest at the cloying silliness that is boogying to some horn-heavy interpretations of Top 100 hits or a once-inescapable Whitney Houston number. However, when you do ultimately decide to embrace this strange human ritual (perhaps the urge comes after your fourth drink or a sugar rush from wedding cake), you realize there is actually quite a bit of admittedly silly fun to be mined from singing along to the staple “Macarena.” That long-winded analogy could, in some ways, describe the joint performance of husband and wife power couple Andy Karl and Orfeh, in their debut engagement at Feinstein's/54 Below, which began December 8.

BWW Review: Timeliness Meets Timelessness in THE WORLD ACCORDING TO KURT WEILL at Urban Stages' WINTER RHYTHMS
December 15, 2016

In THE WORLD ACCORDING TO KURT WEILL, one of the more than 20 shows put together to form the Winter Rhythms festival benefiting arts education, old met new and timeliness met timelessness. At Urban Stages on December 6, six skilled performers were assembled to interpret several of the most well-known songs of the composer Kurt Weill (who died in the year 1950), through the lens of the world as we see it in 2016. This meant that each song from shows such as ONE TOUCH OF VENUS or THREEPENNY OPERA was introduced with a framing device that was the statement of an accurate and modern headline or situation ("The Refugee Crisis in Syria Worsens," "Donald Trump Wins the Election in Shocking Upset").

BWW Review: Megan Hilty Pairs Vocal Prowess with Holiday Levity in Joe's Pub Christmas Concerts
December 8, 2016

Holiday cheer is considerably tenuous this year, in much of the country, anyway. But damn if that would prevent Megan Hilty from delivering abundant joy in her four-show engagement at Joe's Pub, a run which began December 2. The concerts were intended to celebrate the release of Hilty's new Christmas album, A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS, which she recorded live with her four-musician band. Six months pregnant and glowing as bright as the Rockefeller tree herself, Hilty jovially commandeered the evening and not once acknowledged the state of the world outside, making it possible for a room full of New Yorkers to temporarily suspend their shared cynicism or desolation, and plunge into 80 minutes of glee.

BWW Review: Laura Osnes Invites Her Audience to Ponder What Ifs in THE PATHS NOT TAKEN at Feinstein's/54 Below
December 5, 2016

Laura Osnes, Tony-nominated for originating title roles in BONNIE & CLYDE and CINDERELLA, has devoted an entire cabaret act to pondering that hypothetical what if. Bringing an updated version of her show THE PATHS NOT TAKEN back to Feinstein's/54 Below for a four-performance run beginning November 27, Osnes exclusively performed songs which have never seen the light from shows that she nearly booked and either didn't get or had to back out of for one reason or another.

BWW INTERVIEW: Laura Osnes Reflects on Her Journey to Broadway Ahead of Feinstein's/54 Below Show THE PATHS NOT TAKEN, and Why THE BANDSTAND is More Relevant Than Ever
November 23, 2016

Laura Osnes' journey to Broadway was anything but ordinary. Having competed on the reality series GREASE: YOU'RE THE ONE THAT I WANT, she went on to win and make her Great White Way debut as a brunette Sandy in 2007. She proceeded to make craterous impressions on Broadway, replacing Kelli O'Hara in Lincoln Center's SOUTH PACIFIC, as well as originating the role of Bonnie in BONNIE & CLYDE, earning the first of her Tony nominations, followed by the titular Cinderella in Broadway's first production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, for which she earned her second. Osnes will return to Feinstein's/54 Below on November 27, kicking off a string of four shows in which she travels down the roads that might have been, performing songs from roles she nearly booked but, for one reason or another, never came to be. BroadwayWorld chatted with the sweet-as-pie multi-talent about why her forthcoming Broadway gig, THE BANDSTAND, is a vital piece of theater, her co-star Corey Cott, and the inspiration for her unusual cabaret premise (here's a spoiler: Osnes keeps a literal binder in her closet labeled 'Songs I Learned for Auditions').

BWW Review: Katie Rose Clarke Emits Post-Election Optimism in Art House Astoria Benefit Concert at Feinstein's/54 Below
November 17, 2016

Three days after the presidential election, with much of the country still in a daze, attempts to reclaim a sense of 'normalcy' felt futile, but a collective grasping for comfort was ever-present. In her return to Feinstein's/54 Below on November 12, a one-night concert benefiting Art House Astoria, Katie Rose Clarke began her set with a mashup of Pharrell's 'Happy' with 'Get Happy' by Harold Arlen. Incandescent and in remarkably strong voice, Clarke immediately harnessed and shifted the energy of the room and, for the next 90 minutes, a mutual agreement was made not to check contrition at the door, but for Clarke and her audience to ever-slightly rejoice in what was likely a first post-election realization by many that, well, we still have art.