54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits (Chapter 13!)
By Joel Benjamin
That showbiz magician, Scott Siegel, pulled yet another rabbit out of his endlessly deep hat. His 54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits!, despite being the thirteenth chapter, was as fresh and solid as all its preceding incarnations.
Nine performers interpreted fourteen songs accompanied by arrangements played wittily by Ryan Shirar, beginning with the lovely ingénue, Jenna Dallacco’s sweet interpretation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein II classic, “Cockeyed Optimist” from South Pacific. She made it obvious that this is a role she might assay in the future. She was more clear-eyed and much less optimistic in “What Did I Have?” (Lerner/Lane) from On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.
Newcomer, Colm Reilly’s boyish tenor produced a touching “Maria” from West Side Story (Bernstein/Sondheim) and a wide-eyed, innocent “I Remember Sky” from Sondheim’s Evening Primrose.
Morgan Weed, tall, blonde and reed-thin, sang “He Touched Me” from Drat! The Cat! (Ira Levin/Milton Schafer) with a sweet tenderness and “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” from Grease (Jim Jacobs/Warren Casey) with a world-weary façade that artfully hid her sadness.
Jillian Louis used her entire body to put across her two songs: a soft, desperate “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” from Oh, Look! From 1918! (Harry Carroll/Joseph McCarthy) and a girlishly appealing “Make the Man Love Me” from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Arthur Schwartz/Dorothy Fields).
Jon Hacker wrapped his bright, pop tenor around “One Song Glory” from Rent (Jonathan Larson) and turned on the falsetto for “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” from Jersey Boys (Bob Crewe/Bob Gaudio).
A trio of young singers, Pedro Coppeti, Matt Weinstein & Chelsea Wheatley, provided a close-harmony version of that A Chorus Line anthem, “What I Did For Love” (Hamlisch/Kleban) that found all the yearning quality of that song.
Lianne Marie Dobbs had three chances to shine. Her “Hey, There” from The Pajama Game (Richard Adler/Jerry Ross) was sung to an unusualyl upbeat arrangement. She soared in “The Music that Makes Me Dance,” a rarely heard gem from Funny Girl (Styne/Merrill).
However, it was her “Anyone Can Whistle” (Sondheim) that was the highlight of the program. She was joined by Steve “The Whistler” Herbst whose whistled obligato, rather than being a gimmick, added a note of sadness and depth to this lovely, bittersweet song.
This show, produced, directed, written and hosted by Siegel was enhanced by his wonderfully researched historical notes and comments.
Photos: Maryann Lopinto
54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits! – April 15, 2017
254 West 54th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue
New York, NY
For reservations and information on upcoming shows, call 646-476-3551 or visit www.54Below.com