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Ricky Pope News - Page 3

 
BWW Review: WE'RE BACK. LILLIAS WHITE is a Force of Nature at The Green Room 42 Photo BWW Review: WE'RE BACK. LILLIAS WHITE is a Force of Nature at The Green Room 42
by Ricky Pope - Aug 13, 2021

Lillias White (Dreamgirls, Cats, Once On This Island, How to Succeed, The Life, Fela!) is the kind of performer who engenders adoration. She serves up joy and talent in giant portions in everything she does. She won the Tony for The Life, the Obie for Romance in Hard Times, and a Daytime Emmy for her role on Sesame Street. She was also Tony-nominated for her stunning turn in Fela! Her voice is instantly recognizable. No one sings like her. The force of her voice and her presence is as elemental as air, water, earth, and fire.

BWW Interview: Anita Gillette & Penny Fuller of SIN TWISTERS at 54 Below Talk About T Photo BWW Interview: Anita Gillette & Penny Fuller of SIN TWISTERS at 54 Below Talk About Their Long Careers and Their Amazing Friendship
by Ricky Pope - Aug 11, 2021

Although Anita Gillette & Penny Fuller have been in show business for a very long time, their close friendship is not even a decade old yet. Fans frequently mistake them for each other. This is the premise of their show SIN TWISTERS which will open at 54 Below Monday, August 16. The title, of course, is a Spoonerism.  Fuller and Gillette explain that, and the mystery of their mistaken identities in the show. They also sing lots of fantastic numbers from the many stages of their careers. I recently caught up with Anita and Penny on Zoom. It was a chatty, delightful afternoon. 

BWW Review: AMBER IMAN Couldn't Be Better at 54 Below Photo BWW Review: AMBER IMAN Couldn't Be Better at 54 Below
by Ricky Pope - Aug 11, 2021

Amber Iman rises to new heights in cabaret with her show at Feinstein's/54 Below.

BWW Review: LIZ CALLAWAY: COMIN' AROUND AGAIN is an Enchanting Journey to the Past at Photo BWW Review: LIZ CALLAWAY: COMIN' AROUND AGAIN is an Enchanting Journey to the Past at 54 Below
by Ricky Pope - Aug 9, 2021

Somewhere in the middle of her show COMIN’ AROUND AGAIN, which opened tonight at 54 Below, Liz Callaway casually mentioned that this year Merrily We Roll Along will celebrate its 40th anniversary. How is it possible that Liz Callaway (Baby, Cats, Miss Saigon, The Three Musketeers, The Look of Love) has been entertaining Broadway audiences for 40 years? Her voice is as fresh and supple as it was all those years ago. She has always had a remarkable instrument, always squarely in the center of the pitch, with perfect diction. She has the ability to belt and still sound like she’s just talking. She has amazing technique that never calls attention to itself. It is a voice you never grow tired of listening to.

BWW Review: THE DRINKWATER BROTHERS at Don't Tell Mama Are A Hit With The Entire Broa Photo BWW Review: THE DRINKWATER BROTHERS at Don't Tell Mama Are A Hit With The Entire Broadway World Cabaret Team
by Stephen Mosher - Aug 9, 2021

A field trip for the BWW Cabaret team yielded great enjoyment and four different takes on The Drinkwater Brothers.

BWW Feature: SO YOU WANT TO SING CABARET  at Fordham University Photo BWW Feature: SO YOU WANT TO SING CABARET at Fordham University
by Ricky Pope - Aug 7, 2021

Cabaret is the most elusive of art forms. Even those who are regular cabaret performers are unable to give you a unified definition. It frequently crosses paths with musical theatre in material and personnel, and yet it is not technically theatre. And although it resembles concertizing, it's not strictly music either. It can encompass, songs, poetry, prose, dance, standup, monologues, sketches, and performance art. Although it is frequently regarded as the repository of The Great American Songbook, it can also feature any style of music one can imagine from opera to country to hip-hop. And while solo performances are most common, cabaret can also feature groups, both small and large. Anyone who sets out to write a guidebook on the art of cabaret is taking on a handful.

BWW Review: THE BILLY STRITCH TRIO Brings the Jazz Back at Birdland Photo BWW Review: THE BILLY STRITCH TRIO Brings the Jazz Back at Birdland
by Ricky Pope - Aug 7, 2021

Billy Stritch has always embodied a suave elegance that evokes another era before tuxedos were replaced by ripped jeans and before cocktail hour was replaced by Netflix binges. His encyclopedic knowledge of The Great American Songbook is prodigious. He not only knows all the songs, he knows the history of them all. He is as stylish as the great pianists of that era: Oscar Peterson, Marion McPartland, Teddy Wilson, Art Tatum, and Dave Grusin. He is the upholder of a tradition that includes Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Doris Day, and Mel Tormé.

BWW Review: Michael McAssey Makes Music and Mirth With OPEN MAC and Open Mic at Pange Photo BWW Review: Michael McAssey Makes Music and Mirth With OPEN MAC and Open Mic at Pangea
by Stephen Mosher - Aug 6, 2021

Pangea is the place to be on Monday nights, whether you are singing or just listening and enjoying a glass of wine.

BWW Review: JASON DANIELEY Returns to Live Performances  With REFLECTIONS  at 54 Belo Photo BWW Review: JASON DANIELEY Returns to Live Performances With REFLECTIONS at 54 Below
by Ricky Pope - Aug 2, 2021

Jason Danieley does not disappoint in his new show at Feinstein's/54 Below.

BWW Review: KENDRA CUNNINGHAM Scores Big Laughs with THIS COULD BE YOU at Don't Tell  Photo BWW Review: KENDRA CUNNINGHAM Scores Big Laughs with THIS COULD BE YOU at Don't Tell Mama
by Ricky Pope - Jul 30, 2021

Kendra Cunnigham is what would occur if Terri Garr and Mae West had a love child. She’s the first person in her family to leave her home in Boston since her grandmother immigrated from Lithuania. Cunningham doesn’t have to tell you she’s from Boston. Her accent tells the whole story. Her show is an hour of expert standup, that details what happened once she left her family in Massachusetts to make her way in the Big Rotten Apple. It’s a story of bad dates, terrible therapists, and a lot of retail therapy. And those affirmations. It’s a story about a decade of searching for happiness and a decent man. Spoiler alert, she seems to have found both.

BWW Review: LILLI COOPER Dispenses ALL THE FEELS at 54 Below Photo BWW Review: LILLI COOPER Dispenses ALL THE FEELS at 54 Below
by Ricky Pope - Jul 29, 2021

Many women, when they are 8 months pregnant are beginning to think about curtailing their strenuous work activities, concentrating on decorating a nursery, or buying baby clothes and supplies. Not Tony nominee, Lilli Cooper (Tootsie, Spongebob Squarepants, Spring Awakening, Wicked.) Her idea of “taking it easy” involves putting on a pretty dress, and heels, yet, and opening a show at 54 Below. That show, ALL THE FEELS is about this particular transformational moment in her life. Her show is about all the things she loves, which have now taken on new significance because shortly she will get to share them all with a brand new baby boy. After so many bittersweet shows about surviving the pandemic, it is a breath of fresh air to see a show that is so full of hope and joy.

BWW Interview: Billy Stritch of THE BILLY STRITCH TRIO Talks About His Return to Live Photo BWW Interview: Billy Stritch of THE BILLY STRITCH TRIO Talks About His Return to Live Performances at World-Famous Birdland
by Ricky Pope - Jul 27, 2021

New York nightlife is making a slow and steady return to the City that Never Sleeps. One of the city's most famous jazz institutions, Birdland is making a long-anticipated return to live performances next week with one of New York's most elegant and beloved piano men, Billy Stritch. Birdland has been Stritch's artistic home base for nearly two decades. He has played for some of the biggest names in show business and has been a staple of Monday nights at Jim Caruso's CAST PARTY.

BWW Review: SONDHEIM UNPLUGGED Triumphantly Returns at 54 Below Photo BWW Review: SONDHEIM UNPLUGGED Triumphantly Returns at 54 Below
by Ricky Pope - Jul 26, 2021

Before the end of the first song, there was thunderous applause at the return of SONDHEIM UNPLUGGED to 54 Below after having been absent, in fact, all of last year. For those of you, like me, who have never been to a SONDHEIM UNPLUGGED show, it is the creation of impresario Phil Geoffrey Bond. It is a simple concept. It is a monthly event at which he gathers a group of guest stars who sing songs by Stephen Sondheim, accompanied only by a piano. The entire evening is hosted and curated by Mr. Bond who also provides tidbits of history and trivia about the songs we are hearing. The series is in its eleventh season. Tonight’s show was number 93.

BWW Review: ADAM PASCAL Rocks the House at 54 Below Photo BWW Review: ADAM PASCAL Rocks the House at 54 Below
by Ricky Pope - Jul 25, 2021

Adam Pascal is a Broadway star who struggles with Broadway because he is, in his very soul a rock star. That dichotomy has always been the appeal of Pascal’s work. He walks in the Broadway world, but he’s not quite OF it. His show was a no-frills tour through his unexpected career. Just him, a guitar, his stories, and that voice. It is an entirely unique instrument. No one else sounds like him. His voice is as thrilling at 50 as it was when he played Roger Davis at 25.

BWW Review: JOE GULLA Spins Delectable Yarns in THE BRONX QUEEN at 54 Below Photo BWW Review: JOE GULLA Spins Delectable Yarns in THE BRONX QUEEN at 54 Below
by Ricky Pope - Jul 24, 2021

Monologist Joe Gulla has a gift with words and sharing stories, as he showed an appreciative 54 Below audience last night.

BWW Review: JESSE JP JOHNSON Delivers Some SWEET SWEET LOVIN at The Green Room 42 Photo BWW Review: JESSE JP JOHNSON Delivers Some SWEET SWEET LOVIN at The Green Room 42
by Ricky Pope - Jul 24, 2021

When you first see Jesse JP Johnson (Wicked, Spongebob Squarepants, Glory Days,) you think you are about to get some forthright, crooning, suburban boy-band action. He comes in a package complete with chinos, a patterned shirt, and tall blond hair that looks like the newest New Kid on the Block. But then he sings. And what comes out is not that at all. It is a soulful sound, stratospherically high, that is informed by generations of blues singers. Jesse JP Johnson is no bubble gum pretender. He is the real thing.

BWW Review: BETH LEAVEL: IT'S NOT ABOUT ME is a Bravura Triumph at 54 Below Photo BWW Review: BETH LEAVEL: IT'S NOT ABOUT ME is a Bravura Triumph at 54 Below
by Ricky Pope - Jul 22, 2021

Tony-award winner Beth Leavel (The Prom, The Drowsy Chaperone) has made a career out of going too far. Her two most famous roles were delightfully over-the-top women with a healthy dose of self-obsession. Her comedic style is always to ride right up to the line and pause for just long enough to make you think “Oh no, she won’t go there. It would just be too outrageous.” And then of course she does the thing that no one else would do, leaving you howling with laughter. The old vaudevillians called it “chutzpah.” Lucille Ball had it. Penny Marshall had it. Bette Midler has it. And Beth Leavel has it in spades. Her courage to just keep moving the line is why we love her.

BWW Review: JELANI REMY: THIS IS MY MOMENT is a Joy at 54 Below Photo BWW Review: JELANI REMY: THIS IS MY MOMENT is a Joy at 54 Below
by Ricky Pope - Jul 22, 2021

There are some people who just bring joy wherever they go. People who, just by the force of their personality, make things feel safe and kind and fun. Jelani Remy (Ain't Too Proud, The Lion King, Smokey Joe's Cafe) is just that sort of person, as he proved tonight in his solo show THIS IS MY MOMENT at Feinstein's 54 Below. Although his show started as something rather autobiographical, about halfway through he discarded the device and just sang songs that were joyful and that showcased his marvelous, rangy voice.

BWW Review: SALLY WILFERT: HOW DID I END UP HERE? Thoroughly Delights at 54 Below Photo BWW Review: SALLY WILFERT: HOW DID I END UP HERE? Thoroughly Delights at 54 Below
by Ricky Pope - Jul 19, 2021

Sally Wilfert is the kind of singer you just want to listen to all night. She has a crystalline tone that’s clear as a bell. She’s capable of belting without being in your face about it and being soft while still always being present. She’s a great storyteller who takes on characters without losing her own unique personality. She is, in short, a cabaret singer’s cabaret singer. She mixed up standards and show tunes with pop songs and easy listening. It’s not every singer that could get away with using “You Light Up My Life” as an encore, but somehow it just seemed very right.

BWW Review: ARI GROOVES: MESSAGE FROM A WANDERER Is What the World Should Be at 54 Be Photo BWW Review: ARI GROOVES: MESSAGE FROM A WANDERER Is What the World Should Be at 54 Below
by Ricky Pope - Jul 18, 2021

Ari Grooves' show is a trip back in time to connect with ancestors, both hers personally and the collective ancestors. She paints a picture of a planet full of wanderers, staring at the sky and asking the same eternal questions. She does it through a combination of slam poetry, hip-hop, soul, gospel, dance, video, scenes, pantomime, and imagery. It is more than cabaret or theatre. It is performance art that encompasses the entire humanity of planet Earth. That’s a lot to take in. The premiere of this show was timed to coordinate with the release of her first album, also called MESSAGE FROM A WANDERER.

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