BWW Reviews: Falling In Love With BCCM'S MY ROMANCE!
As a team, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz (Larry) Hart found Broadway fame while in their twenties. Though their talents as composer and lyricist complimented one another brilliantly, their working methods and personalities couldn't have been more different. Rodgers's strict work ethic and Hart's casual and tragically self-destructive attitude eventually led to the end of their creative partnership which, in turn, resulted in Rodgers's legendary collaborations with Oscar Hammerstein. After seeing Bayou Concert City Musicals' production of their latest revue, My Romance: The Rodgers and Hart Songbook, I was inspired to not only revisit the songs that were performed, but to delve further into the career of one of Broadway's greatest, if somewhat tumultuous partnerships.Generally speaking, Rodgers and Hart's songs are more famous than the scores they come from. My Romance offered a snapshot of highlights of the team's career, including samplings from BILLY ROSE'S JUMBO, ON YOUR TOES, BABES IN ARMS, PAL JOEY, as well as their lesser-known shows. The cast, which included Zachary Bryant, Danica Dawn Johnston, Adam Gibbs, Amanda Passanante, Joel Sandel, Grace Givenss was perfectly balanced, each performer adding his or her own personality into their songs. There was supposed to be a seventh performer, Susan Shofner, but sadly she was sick and unable to attend. However, some of the other performers stepped in and took on her songs. The evening was coordinated and winningly hosted by charismatic BCCM Artistic Director Paul Hope Michael Mertz provided his customary consummate musical direction and accompaniment. Throughout the production, Hope would interject anecdotes and information about Rodgers & Hart's lives and careers. The content of his narration stemmed from Hope's vast wealth of research and musical knowledge spanning from Broadway's Golden Era to the present. His stories added great humor and insight to the proceedings, enlightening audience members, whether they were familiar with the songs or brand new to the Rodgers and Hart canon. As always, Hope was a more than capable emcee, but I would have liked to hear him sing. I've seen him in past shows throughout the year, and he's an equally great musical performer. The six featured singers, each of whom is notable in the Houston theatre community, added to the evening's overall informal, yet enjoyable tone. Zachary Bryant started the evening off strong with "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World" and later sang a gentle "I Could Write A Book" with Amanda Passamante. Passamante also showed off her range and voice with a powerhouse "Johnny One Note." Adam Gibbs provided pleasant renditions of "Wait Till You See Her" and "Have You Met Miss Jones" Danica Dawn Johnston and Joel Sandel mined great comedy out of "That Terrific Rainbow" and "I Married An Angel," respectively. Johnson also sang beautifully on "It Never Entered My Mind" and "Little Girl Blue." Sandel closed the first half with a heartfelt "My Funny Valentine." Grace Givens lit up the stage in the second part of the revue with stellar performances of "Spring Is Here," "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," and a hilarious take on the darkly comic "To Keep My Love Alive." My Romance: The Rodgers and Hart Songbook concluded with an ensemble performance of the title song. Although the run of MY ROMANCE: THE RODGERS & HART SONGBOOK has ended, their next revue, RIDIN' HIGH: COLE PORTER IN THE 1930s plays May 16-18. For more information is available on their website, bayoucityconcertmusicals.org.
Adam Gibbs & Amanda Passanante
All Photos and Video Courtesy of Sharon Williams at BCCM.