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BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

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The series created in 2003 is astonishing and relevant eighteen years later.

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

"Hi friends, it's Mickey. Welcome to Sugar Babies, we are so happy you're here with us tonight. Something sad happened today to Annie, who we all love so much - her mother died, and she had to leave us for a few days. Now, I know that a lot of you fine folks came to see Annie Miller and you may want to leave and come back another day, but Annie's standby, Jane Summerhays, is ready to go on for Annie and I promise you folks who stay that she and the rest of the Sugar Babies company will give you the best darn show you've ever seen."

I was sixteen and sitting in the Mark Hellinger Theater with my Mama and Daddy to see the show that he, so proudly, chose for us to see during our New York City vacation. My father didn't know a LOT about theater, but my parents loved Broadway and they loved plays, and he picked this one because he was positive it was the right piece of theater for them (and for his show business obsessed, flamboyant young son) to see together. And even though there was no Ann Miller, the Moshers stayed for that performance.

To this day, my eighty-five-year-old father remembers the name Jane Summerhays and talks to me about that unforgettable night that the understudy for Ann Miller hit one out of the park.

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About This is the power of a standby or understudy working in theater, and that power, that magic, that importance, is never to be passed over, diminished, or ignored. Fortunately for the actors of New York waiting in the wings, there is an ally who is devoted to their efforts - Stephen DeAngelis, who (in 2003) created the series AT THIS PERFORMANCE, dedicated to the placing into the spotlight these understudies, standbys, alternates, and covers of the theatrical stage. The series must be a pretty popular one because it boasts one thousand eighty-three performers in a history that has brought it to its' one hundred forty-eighth edition, just last night - so it definitely has longevity on its side. So, why, I asked myself, was the theater at The Green Room 42 not at capacity last night? No mistakes: there was a nice crowd in the house, but as the evening progressed it was more than apparent that the members of the audience were the friends and family of the performers, which is lovely. But the empty seats last night should have been filled with strangers, with industry colleagues and contemporaries, with casting agents, directors, and producers. But they weren't. And I blame myself.

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About For two years I've been at Broadway World Cabaret and I haven't investigated At This Performance, and I am covered with shame. I know why, and I suspect my reasons for not going are reflected in the reason others aren't going: I was never grabbed by the artwork. Each week I troll the websites of the clubs, looking for shows to see, and the artwork for AT THIS PERFORMANCE is unassuming, and the title (while absolutely accurate) is tidy and tiny, and I just never looked at it. That's my bad, it's my fault, it is my loss because when I finally came to the party last night I saw the gravity of my error, and I am here to urge everyone reading these words to catch the very next edition of AT THIS PERFORMANCE. There is no need for Mr. DeAngelis to re-brand his show, he should leave the artwork and the title just as they are because this guy is going to cram that artwork and title down everyone's throat until the whole city has been turned on to the magic of what he is producing.

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About Group shows come and group shows go, there are those that send you home smiling and those that send you home by way of the supermarket to pick up what you put on the mental shopping list you made during the show. Last night's At This Performance was theater at its best and it carried this theater lover home on a cloud of absolute bliss. Ten actors joined Stephen DeAngelis on the stage twice - once to sing something that related to the show that employs them as an understudy (unless contractual obligations mandated a different song selection) and once to sing a song of their own choosing, to showcase their essence as well as their skill. Not one of these actors would be out of place in a starring role on Broadway, not one of them would be wrongly billed above the title. They may not be on the marquee now but they could be, they should be, at some point in their career IF they are lucky enough to have that happen. If it doesn't happen, there is no reason that a single one of them shouldn't spend the rest of their lives working in the theater, and a working actor is a beautiful thing. These actors are beautiful things. What they sang last night is less important than what they symbolize, than what they present, which is the reward each and every actor can attain with hard work and perseverance because each number performed brought the audience of friends and family and fellow performers to an ever-increasing climax of grateful, sated, blissful, elated energy. You could tell, too, that the audience was full of performers because THEY SANG BACK UP.

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

Often at a cabaret show these days, one might experience the frustration of noisy audience members. It's maddening, isn't it? Not last night. Last night there was a little bit of call-and-response happening in the house; there were occasional cheers of good will. And when Ta-Tynsia Wilson finished the evening with "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman" the entire theater, including the lineup from the evening and the Tony-Award winner sitting at the table in front of me, all sang back-up, at Ms. Wilson's urging. None of the audience participation was irritating, frustrating, or maddening - it made the evening more personal, which is important to note because it was a clear indication of the family that is the community of theatrical performers. Acting friends of the acting artists on the stage came out to watch them get into the spotlight. Can I get an amen up in here? It was uplifting and immensely satisfying to see this support, this love, this brother/sister/other-hood from their community. When Lily Tamburo had some mic stand issues, the entire audience coached her through the lowering of the stand and the reinstatement of the mic into its holder (have you had to place a mic in a mic stand before? Not easy on your first try) and when Lily slayed with "Don't Rain On My Parade" the crowd went wild, including that Tony-Award winner who famously sang the song in a benefit concert. When Frank Viveros shared the story about casting directors telling the classically-trained singer that he didn't sing like a black person, he replied, "But I am a black person" to screams of support from a throng of people ready to validate his frustration and support his place in society and the business.

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About AT THIS PERFORMANCE is about more than looking at the work of "The Understudy" as an entity - it is about looking at the faces, and listening to the names, and seeing the people who live and work under The Understudy Umbrella. To that end, I have my one complaint, my one critique, my one suggestion to the industrious and dedicated Stephen DeAngelis: please say their names. Although many of the people in the audience know the artists in the program, there are those of us who do not (yet), and who are meeting them for the first time. Last night, Stephen had a tendency toward kind of throwing off the names of the actors, perhaps assuming we didn't need to hear them since we probably already knew them. Whether introducing the actors to an entire room of family or a theater full of strangers, it is essential that the names of these gorgeous, gifted, and glorious actors be spoken slowly, clearly, with pride and purpose, so that each person in the theater can hear it, can note it, can remember it. This is essential.

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About If the evening of impeccable storytelling and palpable humanity had not been enough to sell this writer on AT THIS PERFORMANCE, what happened at the end of the night would have. Moments after a joyful curtain call, DeAngelis addressed his cast with a heartfelt speech about the importance of their contribution to the art form of live theater, as several of the actors placed their hands over their hearts, leading the lady in front of me to raise her hand and ask if she might say something. Yielding the moment, DeAngelis watched, emotionally, as Miss Lillias White told the, now openly tearful, cast that she started as an understudy, that they are all worthy of great things, and that their talent and perseverance will pay off.

Well, in the opinion of this writer, Lillias White is right in her estimation of these actors. And Stephen DeAngelis is a hero for creating this show. And I am a boob for missing it for so long. Dear readers, don't be a boob, too: hie thee to The Green Room 42 and come to the party, join the family, and get in on the AT THIS PERFORMANCE action. You will not regret it.

AT THIS PERFORMANCE next plays The Green Room 42 on November 22nd. For information and tickets visit The Green Room 42 website HERE.

AT THIS PERFORMANCE is expertly Musical Directed by Eugene Gwozdz

The cast of AT THIS PERFORMANCE was (in order of appearance) Mary Claire King of CHICAGO, Michael Einav of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF IN YIDDISH, Lorna Courtney of WEST SIDE STORY, Joseph London of CHICAGO, Ellen Marlow of FROZEN, Elijah Ahmad Lewis of AIN'T TOO PROUD, Lily Tamburo of MRS. DOUBTFIRE, Frank Viveros of ALADDIN, Ta-Tynsia Wilson of HAMILTON, Lana Gordon of CHICAGO.

The cast of AT THIS PERFORMANCE gets a five out of five microphone rating for performing their entire show without the use of a lyric sheet, tablet, or music stand.

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About
Mary Claire King

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About
Michael Einav

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About
Lorna Courtney

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About
Joseph London

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About
Ellen Marlow

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About
Elijah Ahmad Lewis

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About
Lily Tamburo with Stephen DeAngelis

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About
Frank Viveros

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About
Ta-Tynsia Wilson

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About
Lana Gordon

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About
Eugene Gwozdz plays a fierce solo.

BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About BWW Review: AT THIS PERFORMANCE At The Green Room 42 Is The Best Show In Town You Didn't Know About Photos by Stephen Mosher


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