BWW Review: BROADWAY BY THE YEAR RADIANTLY REVISITS MUSICALS at The Town Hall
Ever since I exited the first of this season's set of BROADWAY BY THE YEAR concerts at The Town Hall (its mission: surveying musicals that were on the Great White Way in the current century), Broadway-connected songs have been zipping around my brain. And I have a renewed love for rhyme after having my ears happily stuffed with the stuff written by the wordsmiths whose work was new then, but also the examples of the old masters whose work was revived after the turn of the century and classics from revivals are a big part of this series ---which is in its 20th year--- created/hosted/directed by Scott Siegel. I guess that's why I somehow found myself writing about all this in lines that rhyme. And I suppose I had a classic Broadway-centric melody stuck in my head because every section of this description of the matter somehow seems to fit the chorus of the jaunty "Give My Regards To Broadway."
Songs that were sung on Broadway --- they never disappear:
These they reprise to please the audience at "Broadway By The Year."
Cheer this endearing series, sampling scores you will recall.
Pick up a ticket, see the show, just go down to Town Hall.
What a parade of re-played highlights of our memory.
They made their bows after 2000, like "Addams Family,"
Back when we had seen "13," "Memphis," and "Come From Away,"
"Young Frankenstein," and "9 to 5," the sound of "Groundhog Day."
It's about hits and misses (some thrive, some don't survive).
Beyond the new that make a big debut are oldies they revive:
"Gypsy"'s a smash, there's "Passion," and repeat "Sweet Charity,"
"Porgy and Bess," "Hair," "Grease," and, yes, two times for "Company."
Let me get that tune out of my head. It isn't easy. That's enough about what this whole terrific series is. Let me tell you about the program from February 24---in prose. (As always, musical director/pianist is Ross Patterson and his Little Big Band.) At the historic venue on West 43 Street, it was a song (and musical production) named after the next block over --- "42nd Street" --- that started things off with a sensational dance number with a huge ensemble. In addition to the revival of that show and others sampled, ("La Cage Aux Folles," "Bells Are Ringing," to name two), we got super-entertaining samples of musicals that were new in the new century, from big successes like "The Producers" to the quickly gone "Dance Of The Vampires," which had added bite by having its represented number done by original cast member Max von Essen. He also did a sublime version of the classic from "Oklahoma!": "Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin'." Oh, dear, I find that desire to rhyme coming on me again and I feel helpless to resist, but, oh, it's such beautiful music and oh, I think my review of the concert might end up matching the melody lines of sections of that Rodgers & Hammerstein favorite.
Oh, what a cool, classy concert.
Choices and voices so strong.
And all at Town Hall soon are bawling along.
Oh, what a beautiful evening.
Ms. Feldshuh is the special guest.
Some people say her "Some People" mixes her moxy and zest.
We get men like Ben Jones with great tones.
And, hooray, then we have Nicole Henry.
Her phrasing brought luster to each note and rhyme
And his "Buddy's Blues" brought new hues to Sondheim.
Oh, how about Max von Essen,
His talent is really a blessin'.
And Jenny Lee Stern: earnest, cute, and serene,
She brings something special to "Somewhere That's Green."
I salute Brian Charles Rooney, versatile down to his toes:
Hammy, dramatic, or looney. He is a prize among pros.
Dancing man Danny Gardner's magnetic.
And the dancers --oh, so copacetic.
The chorus was grand and then so was the band.
They were regal; Scott Siegel deserves a big hand.
Oh, what a marvelous series, now in its twentieth year.
Always more music to hear!
Address is 123 West 43 Street in Manhattan.
Update to originally published article: The Broadway By The Year concert sereies was scheduled to have its second installment on March 30. But the venue, like others of a larger capacity has had to postpone events that had been scheduled for the later part of March. The program, with three more concerts having been planned, looks forward to its continuation as rules based on audience health concerns allow.