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BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks

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What's your Hal Prince moment? Everyone has one.

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks The IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE show played 54 Below one week ago yesterday. In an average week, I would have had a story about it up on the Broadway World website before sunrise the following day, but for some reason I was having trouble sitting down and writing about the experience, which is usually a sign of something bigger. When that kind of delay enters my work, my husband always say, "Use your voice; tell your story." There are so many stories to tell, though, where was I to begin?

I never met Hal Prince, but I adored him. He had given my friends jobs in which they had flourished; he had created musicals that informed and inspired nearly every decade of my life. By simply existing and creating, Hal Prince had left an indelible mark on my life. There probably isn't a single person who loves theater who hasn't been touched by Hal Prince and his existence, and that fact was certainly in the room last Monday when Jennifer Ashley Tepper and Kevin Michael Murphy presented the special edition of their eleven-year-old series, an edition dedicated solely to the (underappreciated) works of Hal Prince. Ms. Tepper and Mr. Murphy have definitely been moved by Hal Prince, that much was plain to see during their nine-forty-five performance last week; the way they spoke of him throughout the evening was as one speaks of a beloved father or grandfather, uncle, professor, or mentor. They absolutely adored him - and so did everyone else who got up on the stage to talk. It was all so wonderful that it made me sorry I hadn't invested the time and energy into seeing the 7 o'clock performance, like the sweet and enthusiastic couple with whom we shared our table. Murphy and Tepper (and musical director Dan Garmon) arranged two completely different shows to play back-to-back - different casts, different songs, different stories, different journeys. A double feature would have been well worth the effort - but it wasn't in the hand I was dealt, so I chose the show in which Brandon Uranowitz was going to play. He was announced with the 9:45 cast, months ago, and I wasn't going to miss that.

I missed it.

My idol had to drop out, for what was (I am sure) a very good reason. Nevertheless, I retained my reservation for the later show because Richard Kind was on the bill, and that would be something to see, and no mistake.

No mistake was made.

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks Indeed, the entire performance was something special, with first-rate musical performances from actors whose work I already know, love, and appreciate (Jay Armstrong Johnson), performers I was seeing for the first time (Jasmine Forsberg), and gorgeous people with whom I am personally acquainted in real life (Kevin Ferguson). With or without the entertainment value of musical numbers like "Sing Happy" and "What You'd Call a Dream" - the former, a knock-out in Ms. Forsberg's more than capable hands and the latter, a sigh-maker, thanks to Mr. Murphy - the night of trivia and reminiscences about Mr. Prince would have been complete, and completely enjoyable. Jennifer Ashley and Kevin Michael really did their homework in their efforts to make the show a comprehensive, informative, and yet entertaining evening of show. Indeed, after the performance, walking home, I asked my husband to name his favorite part of the evening and he replied, "Mr. Kind, of course; what was yours?"

"The two of them. Kevin and Jennifer."

Yes, Richard Kind was beyond fabulous. He was funny and silly (booing when they introduced him, come on now!), he was honest about his dream of doing a Sondheim/Prince musical and how it came about, he was relatable, accessible and he sang beautifully, in spite of his protestations that he is no singer. The love and affection he showed throughout his segment was palpable... but then, those emotions were equally powerful during the Jay Armstrong Johnson confessions and equally touching during the Erik Liberman monologue, segments during which the eyes of each man shone misty, as they spoke so devotedly and eloquently about this man who mentored them. These spoken tributes to a legend who was just a man were all exquisite, were all memorable, were all valuable. But if you took your eyes off of the main spotlight and allowed your gaze to focus stage left, there, you would find the show hosts beaming. Wide smiles blazed and bright eyes soaked up every moment on the stage, with pride for their colleagues, respect for their craft, and a flood of love for Mr. Prince and the rich legacy with which we have been left. Much focus and great care has been taken in an effort to pair, precisely, the singers with the songs, and the people with the prose; it is not, though, restricted to their producing skills, that which makes the pair perfect for the presentation.

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks

Tepper and Murphy have been curating and presenting this series for a long time and they have cracked the code on how to host a show of this nature. Their side-by-side seats are right down stage, where they can talk to their audience. Their scripts are in front of them, filled with facts no mere mortal should be expected to remember unless they are Phil Geoffrey Bond or Will Friedwald, but Murphy and Tepper are not married to the scripts. They use the written words for guidance but they aren't velcroed to them. Theirs is a production achieved with that difficult-to-find balance of absolute professionalism and relaxed spontaneity. Much humor and personal attention permeates their conversation with the audience, rather than a classroom atmosphere where the air rings of droning, and they make that which we will learn - the "lesson" if you will - fun because they make it personal, all the while presenting first-class musical entertainment. The production is fun because they are having fun, and, to me, that's cabaret.

IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF Hal Prince ran for two shows on October 18th but Ms. Tepper and Mr. Murphy do not have another instalment currently scheduled.

Find other great 54 Below shows at the club website HERE.

Visit the IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE website HERE.

The IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE cast gets a four out of five microphones rating for the occasional use of a lyric sheet, tablet, or music stand.BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks
Emma Stratton sings "I Wouldn't Change A Thing" from The Last Resorts
BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks
Dan Garmon
BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks
Jay Armstrong Johnson

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks
Vaibu Mohan, Will Roland, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Lauren Marcus & Kevin Michael Murphy

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks
Performing "Great Dane A'Comin" from Touch And Go

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks
Jasmine Forsberg sings "Sing Happy" from Flora The Red Menace

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks
Kevin Michael Murphy sings "What You'd Call a Dream" from Diamonds

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks
Kevin Ferguson sings "New Man" from Grind

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks
Vaibu Mohan sings "Without Me" from The Petrified Prince

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks
Nick Martinez & Megan Kane sing "Tire Tracks and Broken Hearts" from Whistle Down The Wind

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks
Erik Liberman sings "September Song" from Lovemusik

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks
Richard Kind sings "Bounce" from Bounce

BWW Review: IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE CELEBRATES THE UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSICALS OF HAL PRINCE at Feinstein's/54 Below Scores High Marks Photos by Stephen Mosher


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