Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style

The Ben Cameron-helmed series celebrates Black History Month.

Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style During the two-hour party that took place at the Laurie Beechman Theatre Thursday night, host Ben Cameron mentioned that BROADWAY SESSIONS is in its thirteenth year. It is easy to see why the twice-monthly show is so popular: it was like a frat party at the Drama House. Everybody had a Drama House when they were in college, didn't they? Because when I was at uni, studying theater, the Drama House was one block away from the Drama Department, and it is where all the parties happened, and all those parties looked a bit like what occurred at The Beechman on Thursday night. And, much like all of us twenty-somethings at the Drama House, the crowd was there for the party.

Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style As delightful a host as any (and possibly faster on his feet than most) Mr. Cameron has created one heck of a festive evening of entertainment, and it's a formula that is clearly working for him. Advertised with a start time of ten pm, Cameron sees to the needs of the audience by socializing with them, doing a little comedy at the mic, and then warming up the crowd with an audience participation game called "Sing for a Shot" (it's all in the name), all by way of killing time until the show actually begins, sometime closer to 10:30, at which time all the guests of the curated open mic will have had time to arrive from whichever musical they just finished acting in. With all of these Broadway performers in the room, Cameron and his co-host, the divine and delightful Imari Hardon spend ninety minutes performing proper hosting duties (which isn't easy, a fact people aren't always apt to acknowledge) in an effort to showcase the exceptional talent they have gathered together for the evening (a word of advice - if Ben Cameron is anywhere near where you are sitting during the show, watch him watch the actors - the love, respect, and admiration there is a beauty to behold). The show format of performance is one that is still working for them after all these years, which may be why the Laurie Beechman was filled to capacity on Thursday night.

Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style Or the theater may have been packed-to-the-walls because this was their sixth annual BLACK HISTORY MONTH celebration. All guest performers for the evening's program were from the beautiful and exciting community of black actors working in New York City in productions like Six, The Lion King, The Girl From The North Country, Wicked, and more - and one of the many wonderful things about being black is the support that is so strongly given from the other members of your community. The Beechman overflowed with friends and colleagues who didn't just come in an act of friendship to see their loved one perform one song in an open mic - they came because they wanted to revel in the extraordinary talent and performances that were destined to be on display. For the entirety of the ninety-minute performance, the audience invested themselves in each act, and they invested themselves in the showing of appreciation for the actors, during and after their performances. It was a beautiful show of love, friendship, and solidarity from two different communities - the community of black citizens, and the community of performing artists, and it was something special to witness, especially when Ms. Hardon called to the stage anybody who knew the Black National Anthem for a pre-show sing-a-long that spilled off of the stage and into the audience until the entire theater was filled with raised voices celebrating Black History Month with the glorious composition.

Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style
Ben Cameron

For the open-mic portion of the evening, Musical Director Joshua Stephen Kartes had remarkable ease at providing on-the-spot immaculate accompaniment as singers performed musical theater ("Will He Like Me"), Top Forty ("All In Love Is Fair"), and new classics like Jonathan Reid Gealt's "No Reason At All" - an evening highlight, thanks to Imari Hardon's brilliance as an artist and vulnerability as a person. Choosing highlights from the evening is more difficult than usual for this writer because each artist to grace the stage brought a uniqueness to their performance informed by individuality of person, and life experiences, a special quality that is often missing from open mic nights. Many is the time this reporter has sat in a cabaret theater or a nightclub and listened to people simply sing the notes, but the cast of this week's Broadway Sessions brought more passion, more personality, and more perfection in storytelling to their performances than the usual open mic fare, rendering the experience one where the people in the seats aren't just listening... they are hearing. And even though the raucous nature of the Broadway Sessions Frat Party was a bit much for Grandpa to handle on a school night, the love in the air and the artistry on the stage was more than worth the walk home in the rain after the show.

This was essential viewing, and I'm so glad that I made this my first journey into the Broadway Sessions legend. I expect that all of the installments of the series are this good, but I doubt that they are this special - this was, in this writer's experience, an out-of-the-ordinary night of musical theater.

Broadway Sessions plays The Laurie Beechman Theatre twice monthly. Information and tickets can be found at the Westbank Cafe website HERE.

Ben Cameron has a website HERE with a Broadway Sessions specific page HERE.

The singing of the Black National Anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing":Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style

Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style

Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style
Skylar Gamble
Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style
Britt Mack
Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style
DeMone Seraphin
Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style
Imari Hardon
Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style
Anastasia Talley
Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style
Roderick Lawrence
Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style
Wonu Ogunfowora
Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style
Anthony Murphy
Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style
Zonya Love
Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style
Antoine Smith
Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style
Anastasia Talley and Antoine Smith
Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style
Nyla Watson
Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style
Cast sing-a-long to "Home" from The Wiz
Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style
Shaq Hester

Review: BROADWAY SESSIONS at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Celebrates Black History Month In Style


Join Team BroadwayWorld

Are you an avid Cabaret fan in NYC? We're looking for people like you to share your thoughts and insights with our readers. Team BroadwayWorld members get access to shows to review, conduct interviews with artists, and the opportunity to meet and network with fellow theatre lovers and arts workers.

Interested? Learn more here.


Regional Awards


From This Author - Stephen Mosher

Stephen Mosher is the author of The Sweater Book (a collection of his photography featuring celebrated artists from the entertainment communities of New York, Los Angeles, and London), Lived In Cra... (read more about this author)


Review: Claudine Cassan-Jellison Encores HEY FRENCHY! STORIES AND SONGS FROM THE PANTRY at Don't Tell MamaReview: Claudine Cassan-Jellison Encores HEY FRENCHY! STORIES AND SONGS FROM THE PANTRY at Don't Tell Mama
September 29, 2022

Chanteuse et recountreuse Claudine Cassan-Jellison revient avec sa belle histoire personelle.

Review: Storytelling Supreme Abounds As BETTY BUCKLEY Opens At CAFE CARLYLEReview: Storytelling Supreme Abounds As BETTY BUCKLEY Opens At CAFE CARLYLE
September 28, 2022

With her return to Café Carlyle, Betty Buckley demonstrates, once more, the reason for the longevity of her career and her reputation as a storyteller.

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 BelowReview: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below
September 28, 2022

Opening night of Tony Danza's 54 Below run was full of surprises, heart, Dad jokes and great music.

Review: JEREMY JORDAN AND AGE OF MADNESS Play Awesome Debut Rock Concert at Sony HallReview: JEREMY JORDAN AND AGE OF MADNESS Play Awesome Debut Rock Concert at Sony Hall
September 27, 2022

WIth their first-ever rock concert JEREMY JORDAN AND AGE OF MADNESS have, firmly, announced themselves.

10 Videos To Celebrate BETTY BUCKLEY AT CAFE CARLYLE September 27th Through October 1st10 Videos To Celebrate BETTY BUCKLEY AT CAFE CARLYLE September 27th Through October 1st
September 27, 2022

Betty Buckley is back in New York City and all is right with the world.