BWW Review: Feinstein's/54 Below Recalls All Our Childhoods With 54 CELEBRATES THE MUPPETS!
Heigh-Ho, My Merry Rainbow Tribe! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in cabareT to bring you all the T...
Why ARE there so many songs about rainbows? (RAINBOWS?!?) Because there are so many Muppet fans, that's why my lambkins... And Bobby's fandom made Sunday night's 54 CELEBRATES THE MUPPETS a perfect fit for us and all our little rainbow children. The seventh installment in Feinstein's/54 Below Muppet salute, Sunday's performance proved why this popular review keeps coming back to the F/54B stage... aside from its sold-out house. Hosted by cuddly super bear, Adam B. Shapiro (of the Yiddish Fiddler) whose happy face, ebullient hosting style, and snappy pace kept things fast, fun, and funny from first to finale. Shapiro's stage presence backs up his performing talents which he displayed late in the program with a rousing rendition of Kermit's STEPPIN OUT WITH A STAR as well as taking on a few Fozzy WAKA WAKA jokes. The depth of talent needed to bring together an evening as enjoyable as 54/MUPPETS each year is considerable and requires careful curation, arranging, and direction. For this 7th edition, F/54B struck gold with Director/Producer Philip Romano and Music Director Ben Caplan. Putting together a program of the familiar and the obscure, original works penned for the muppets and muppet covers of famous tunes all mixed with a talented cast of Broadway veterans, up-and-comers, and one member of the Muppet Royal Family, Caplan and Romano's setlist delighted all in attendance.
Of course, the band opened with THE MUPPET SHOW THEME and the show closed with RAINBOW CONNECTION (RAINBOW?!?)... that was all to be expected, but in between the crowd heard wonderful takes on SING A SONG ABOUT SUNSHINE & SOMETHING'S MISSING from Sesame Street, and BRING BACK THE WONDER from Fraggle Rock. This last so beautifully arranged by Ben Caplan and sung with such innocent ... well, wonder by the gifted Monet Julia Sabel that many a sigh was heard throughout the house upon her last note. Other highlights of the night included Vishal Vaidya who took IT FEELS GOOD WHEN YOU SING A SONG to the SESAME STREET! Duets of the night included; ginger treat Nicholas Barasch singing SOMETHING'S MISSING with a divine Charlotte Maltby, but the show-stealing duet award goes to BE MORE CHILL alums Gerard Canonico and Jason SweetTooth Williams whose MAN OR MUPPET was made all the more hilarious when, in mid-song, their friendly palm slap was followed by a full 20-second hand sanitizing countdown with audience participation before finishing the number - a GREAT bit! And then there was Rick Lyon...
One of the creative minds behind the puppets of Broadway's Avenue Q as well as a veteran of all things Henson, Lyon has true Muppet blood in his veins having started with Henson himself in the 80's and is today one of the very few performers gifted with the ability and the permission to voice the big puppets. Having just LITERALLY run over to F/54B from performing in fellow Avenue Q alum Jennifer Barnhardt's cabaret at The Beechman, Lyon was announced and one could feel the delight in the room as he and Sesame Street superstar Ernie stepped up to the stage to sing I DON'T WANT TO LIVE ON THE MOON (Google it... go on... and We dare ya not to cry a little). But, that wasn't all from the Muppet Master for it was he and Kermit, banjo and all, leading the cast to the stage for the RAINBOW CONNECTION finale... To say the very least, the audience kvelled. It is appropriate, but also a little sad that this FAB evening of music, Muppets, and memories comes but once a year, but, like Christmas, it can be anticipated with joy and excitement, and though this was Bobby's first time at 54 CELEBRATES THE MUPPETS it will not be our last. If you have not experienced this wonderful night of cabaret, keep an eye out for it on Feinstein's/54 Below website and make sure to attend the next installment for Bobby gives 54 CELEBRATES THE MUPPETS our full 5 Out Of 5 Rainbows.
Find Out About All Things Feinstein's/54 Below: HERE
(PS - To see numbers from past shows, search 54 Celebrates The Muppets on the YouTubes)
The Program of 54 Celebrates the Muppets included these fine performers:
Damon J. Gillespie
Nicholas Barasch & Charlotte Maltby
Alex Prakken & Michael Ryan
Rick Lyon & Ernie
Adam B. Shapiro - Host
Monet Julia Sabel
Fergie L. Philippe
Gerard Canonico & Jason SweetTooth Williams
Rick Lyon & Kermit