The Leading Men II: Bring On The Men
There are people who write about the arts, and there are people who create art, and rarely the twain shall meet. Wayman Wong manages to do both. Not content to write about notable male singers and actors in his "Leading Men" column for Playbill magazine, Wong has produced two concerts showing off the best masculine voices in New York. The second sold-out Leading Men concert raised the roof at Birdland last Monday, and reminded the crowd just why we love the guys we love. With Avenue Q and Beauty and the Beast's leading man John Tartaglia as host, and with Alan Muraoka's deft direction, the overall mood of the evening was lighthearted fun and laughs, and many of the songs supported that theme.Pacific Overtures' Telly Leung opened the evening by reminding the crowd of why actors and singers do what they do with "It's The Applause," from David Delaney and Bill Augustin's How I Paid for College. Tom Andersen kept the mood light with an utterly charming rendition of Willy Welch's "Right Field." David Gurland, currently performing monthly at the Laurie Beechman, sang an exhilarating "Waiting for Life to Begin" from Once on This Island, and Adam Jacobs (Les Mis' new Marius) calmed the room down with a gentle and emotional "Maria" from West Side Story. BroadwayWorld's own Ben Strothmann sang a very funny "Milwaukee" from Barry Kleinbort's Big City Rhythm, and was balanced by Tim Di Pasqua singing his poignant "You," which Brandon Cutrell (Leading Men III, we can hope) has turned into a standard. Daniel Reichard, who really ought to consider a career in cabaret once his contract with Jersey Boys ends, sang a lovely "Torch Song" from When Pigs Fly, and Norm Lewis reminded us once again why he's so adored by the Broadway community by singing his signature song, "I'd Rather Be Sailing" from William Finn's A New Brain. Perry Ojeda, an up‑and‑coming triple threat performer who stood out as a dancer in the ensemble of Imaginary Friends a few years back, made certain that the audience would remember his name with an energetic (and multi‑lingual) "Lucky to be Me" from On the Town. Comedian, singer, an open‑mic host Jim Caruso sang an adorable "Tone Deaf" (proving that he isn't), and Hugh Panaro performed "Right Before My Eyes" from his leading‑man vehicle Lestat. Musical Director Seth Rudetsky did a bit of his trademarked deconstructing, analyzing the OBC recording of The Sound of Music and poking fun at Kurt's changing voice. Up‑and‑comer Jason Michael Snow sang a bright and bouncy "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat," which is generally performed by a character actor rather than a leading man. Doesn't matter. He sang it wonderfully, and wowed the crowd with his energy and powerful voice. The evening drew to a close with Urban Cowboy and Grey Gardens' resident hottie Matt Cavenaugh, who sang a fiercely emotional "I Take It Back" by Jason Robert Brown, cut from Urban Cowboy. It was a nicely emotional conclusion to an evening that was largely pure-and-simple fun, and judging from the sold-out crowd's enthusiastic reactions, it was just what was needed to warm us up on a cold winter's night.