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Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Michael Lavine and Michael Portantiere put on a pleasant night of pretty music for the Feinstein's folks.

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

There are times in life when all the stars are in alignment, when an opportunity presents itself, and the people can benefit from the occasion. Then there are times when a person makes the opportunities themselves, which is exactly what Michael Portantiere and Michael Lavine did last week when they presented a concertized version of the classic musical THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE, starring The Drinkwater Brothers.

John Drinkwater and Matthew Drinkwater, a pair of life-threateningly talented identical twins, have been building up steam in the cabaret and concert community for the last few years and, during the pandemic-necessitated lockdown, the brothers became internet stars. Show business journalist Portantiere is among one of the many people (influential or otherwise) who have thrown their support behind The Drinkwaters, so one might assume it was his idea to have Matt and John take on the roles of identical twins Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse. It was an inspired idea, to be sure, and it paid off for the patrons of 54 Below, many of whom would appear to be Drinkwater fans, as well, for the theater was fairly well populated for the Lavine-Portantiere-helmed evening, one that presented a beautiful score not often heard in person, that deserves to be heard in person.

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below The Boys From Syracuse (based on Shakespeare's Comedy Of Errors and with a score by Rodgers and Hart) is considered a classic musical from the Golden Age of Broadway, and it has been produced many times over the years, but the last New York production (featuring a revised script) did not fare very well, perhaps damning the play to a consideration that it might be out-of-date and difficult to produce. Whatever the public and industry perception of the play, the score is lush, filled with classic songs from Broadway's history, and in extremely good hands with Maestro Lavine at the piano. The two Michaels cast their concert version very well for voice and acting talent (although they could have done better with their diversity ratio), and although Portantiere mentioned once or twice that they were operating under a small amount of rehearsal time, the production didn't suffer much, though it did lose a little steam at the end, with Klea Blackhurst's participation being restricted to a few minutes of script-read dialogue delivered from the audience, in the dark. Other than that slightly confusing configuration of events, the rest of the program was an absolute delight, with all of the actors providing proper storytelling skills through expurgated bits of dialogue and impressive vocals that belied the idea of minimal rehearsal time. Under Mr. Lavine's guidance, everyone sounded wonderful, particularly the Drinkwaters, who we, most often, see singing pop and rock music necessitating microphones. On the evening in question, one was quite apt to notice that the brothers held their mics so far from their mouths as to render them superfluous - and yet the power of their musical theater training made it possible to hear every word, every note, every syllable, every consonant, and always communicated through those beautiful Drinkwater tones. In their matching outfits and with their matching vocals, it was indeed difficult to tell the men apart.

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

The members cast of the Boys From Syracuse concert were all at the top of their game but there were some surprises for this writer in the form of Jay Aubrey Jones (who brought down the house doing the "Come With Me" duet with Matthew Drinkwater) and Megan Styrna, whose every acting choice made her impossible to ignore, especially during the legendary "Sing For Your Supper" number, (and if the "Sing For Your Supper" number scores, you've got a hit). The other surprise of the performance was Michael Portantiere himself, a man known for his encyclopedic knowledge of theater and, therefore, a right-and-proper host for the evening, but when this host participated as a singing actor, his pleasant voice, vocal technique, and acting abandon were cause for smiles of appreciation. It was enough to make a person wish that these two Michaels would do more nights like this.

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

There a lots of people who do this kind of show, these retrospectives on American Musical Theater, these flashbacks on the past, but often enough the people producing the event seem to be missing an ingredient - perhaps the program is under-researched, maybe the host is more concerned with reading all the trivia than they are with connecting to the audience, possibly the cast is too dependent upon scripts and lyric sheets. None of that came into play at this event. Misters Lavine and Portantiere didn't only know absolutely every note and word of their material, they were great backup vocalists and cast members. Every actor on the stage knew their character, their lines, their lyrics, and were, therefore, free to act, free to sing, free to tell the story. There was humor, humanity, and quality entertainment, and that's what a night like this should be like. Thank goodness for Matthew and John Drinkwater for coming along at the right time to inspire The Michaels into doing it. The big question is: what will Portantiere and Lavine do next, and will it, also, be Drinkwater inspired?

Whatever they might choose, it can be counted upon to be good, solid, fun entertainment.

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

The Drinkwater Brothers are on Facebook HERE, Michael Lavine has a website HERE and Michael Portantiere is on Facebook HERE.

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below
Michael Lavine, Michael Portantiere, and Jay Aubrey Jones

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below
John Drinkwater and Kenny Rahtz

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below
Kenny Rahtz and Janet Fanale

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below
Leah Horowitz

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below
Megan Styrna, Matthew Drinkwater, and Sara DiPasquale

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below
John Drinkwater and Katie Dixon

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below
Katie Dixon and John Drinkwater

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below
Matthew Drinkwater and Jay Aubrey Jones

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below
Megan Styrna, Leah Horowitz and Katie Dixon

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below
Christine Pedi

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Review: There Was Much To Love About THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE IN CONCERT at Feinstein's/54 Below

Photos by Stephen Mosher


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From This Author - Stephen Mosher