Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity

The annual CCM show at 54 Below is just as good as it always is.

BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity

Scott Coulter may be the busiest man in the business. The performer and producer whose company Spot-On Entertainment is responsible for some of the best (and most popular) concerts and cabarets available to audiences can often be found playing concert halls around the world, and he can often be found in the basement at 54 Below. Each of the shows Coulter and Spot-On create are sell-outs, crowd-pleasers, and entertainment of the highest quality. But when the program playing the supper club labeled Broadway's Living Room is one of the CCM celebrations, it's more than just a job - it's a labor of love.

Each year the graduating class of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music's Musical Theater Program comes to New York for their agent showcase, a rite of passage for most theater students, and each year Coulter and a team of CCM alumni get together to put on a night of entertainment at 54 Below - a night during which the graduates make their New York City cabaret debut. While the celebrated alumni play the majority of the program, the more, shall we say, Junior talents appear in a group number showcasing each singing actor for a brief moment in the spotlight.

Tuesday night was that night and that show.

BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Photo courtesy of Scott Coulter

Sixteen young people, beautiful of spirit, talent, and appearance, and of varying demographics got to strut their stuff at 7 pm and 9:30 pm as Coulter and co. presented proof positive of why CCM is such a successful program. And while the opportunity to see the successful alumni perform in a program dedicated to retiring CCM professor Roger Grodsky made for some great live entertainment, while the chance to welcome the newcomers to the business and the city was uplifting and rewarding, while changing times and attitudes have made way for every artist to live in their authentic light, the real reward for this writer was seeing the pride that the CCM family has for its alma mater. As, one by one, artists like Aria Braswell and Brandon Logan stepped up onto the stage to say a few words about their CCM days before launching into song, the dominant presence in the room was community. CCM has given all of these intergenerational students a link to one another, as well as solidarity in the form of happiness honor for their association with CCM. At times, guest artists like Alexa Green and Broadway icon Lee Roy Reams spoke directly to the graduates, welcoming them to the family of CCM graduates and urging them to reach out to the alumni for advice and support, and every time it happened, the beautiful men and women and gender non-conforming members of the 2022 graduating class appeared genuinely touched by the sincere generosity of the graduates who have come before them. (They were also, always, enraptured by CCM ambassador, the colorful Lee Roy Reams, whom they clearly adore.) It was all a heartwarming display highlighting the importance of education and the value of mentors in the industry, to say nothing of the emotional response inherent when the topic of conversation is the future of the young. Producer and evening emcee, Coulter, even had to stop in mid-speech for an unexpected flood of tears, making a very human event even more audience accessible.

The musical entertainment for the evening was a resplendent display of talent, from both the singers and the accompanists, all of whom are also CCM graduates. Not one performance could be held to criticism, each and every moment was a credit to the CCM reputation. Musical moments seen throughout the seventy-five-minute program were the following performances:

The Sixteen Bar Medley featuring the CCM Graduates, played by Julie Spangler

Till There was You, sung by Aria Braswell, played by John Boswell

Believe in Yourself, sung by Brandon Logan, played by Ian Axness

Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat, sung by Chris Collins-Pisano, played by Danny White

Bill, sung by Tiffany Haas, played by Danny Perceful

The Story Goes On, sung by Alexa Green, played by Dean Balan

It's Today, sung by Lee Roy Reams, played by John Boswell

Tomorrow, sung by Scott Coulter, played by John Boswell

The musical highlights of the evening came from the ladies and came in the form of two original compositions, the first by Brianna Barnes, who accompanied herself on guitar while singing "Ghost" from her musical Rathskeller - it was a performance and a song so incredible as to inspire one to run right out and get a copy of the cast album, only it's not out... YET. The second of these two highlights was the song "What If" from the new musical Walking With Bubbles. It was played on guitar by Walking With Bubbles composer/lyricist Brianna Barnes and sung by the show's book writer, Jessica Hendy. Every aspect of the performance, from the writing to Hendy's devastating musical acting is a perfect advertisement for CCM and what a good education (and tenacity, which can also be taught in college) can give a member of the entertainment profession. It left this reporter anxiously awaiting the new musical's first production.

BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity As for Mr. Coulter, he remains the best emcee in the business, charming, generous, and able to handle every and any moment of spontaneity that might bubble up; he is always a force for good when it comes to CCM and these wonderful annual concerts welcoming these special young people to the industry. Each of the sixteen young adults delivered admirably of themselves and their talent, especially Britta Rae, Tyler J. Martin, and Chesney Mitchell, whose solo club acts this reporter will be looking for in the future, which is going to be a bright one for musical theater and cabaret, thanks to the regular influx of people like this into the industry. It makes one wonder what the heck they are teaching at CCM, and whether or not it can be bottled and sold because, season after season, graduation after graduation, the institution is creating artists one just can't help feeling excited to see, when they land on Broadway.

Or you could just wait a year and catch the next installment of THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION with an all-new cast of gifted actors out of the Buckeye State. It's a show that never disappoints.

Find great shows to see on the 54 Below website HERE.

Visit the website for Scott Coulter's Spot-On Entertainment HERE.

Lee Roy Reams, It's Today!:

BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity

The Graduates, The Sixteen Bar Medley:

BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Ashton Francis
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Eli Owens
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Cassie Maurer
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Christian Feliciano
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Anna Chase
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Britta Rae
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Sam David Cohen
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Kai Horvit
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Jake Waford
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Tori Heinlein
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Sammy Schecter
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Tyler J. Martin
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Leo Carmody
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Chesney Mitchell
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Brandon Schumacker
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Christian Kidd
BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
CCM's Diane Lala

Aria Braswell, Till There Was You:

BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity Brandon Logan, Believe In Yourself:

BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity Chris Collins-Pisano, Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat:

BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Tiffany Haas, Bill:

BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity Alexa Green, The Story Goes On:

BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity Brianna Barnes, Ghost:

BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity Jessica Hendy, What If:

BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity Lee Roy Reams, George M. Cohan Medley:

BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity

Scott Coulter, Tomorrow:

BWW Review: THE BEST OF BROADWAY! A CCM CELEBRATION at 54 Below Showcases Talent and Solidarity
Photos by Stephen Mosher


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.




Related Articles View More Cabaret Stories


From This Author - Stephen Mosher