Broadway By The Year 1930 and 1964

 

Scott Siegel’s Broadway By The Year Series at Town Hall celebrates two years of songs from great shows in two different decades with a top notch cast of singers.

The Company

 

By Linda Amiel Burns

 

In the past 18 years that Scott Siegel has written, directed and hosted Broadway By The Year, the successful series at Town Hall, he probably has covered all of the years and decades of the musicals of the Great White Way. However, this season Scott has come up with an interesting new concept that each act would be a different year, in another decade, to show the changes in styles and the history of the times. On February 26, 2018, the first concert of 2018, Scott celebrated 1930 when the country was hit with a severe depression, and 1964, a year of political turmoil when many remarkable shows opened on Broadway.

As he had done from the beginning of the series, Ross Patterson served as the brilliant Musical Director with Tom Hubbard on bass, and Eric Halvorson on drums. Several scheduled cast members Chuck Cooper, and Emily Skinner were ill, so that Tonya Pinkins, and Christine Andreas subbed in at the last minute.  The cast also featured the honey-voiced Scott Coulter, Pedro Coppeti, and the versatile song and dance man, Danny Gardner, along with the incredible Mark Nadler and Christiane Noll of Jekyl & Hyde fame.

Act 1 – 1930

Scott began Act I describing what world conditions were in 1930. The stock market crashed in 1929 and by 1930 1,350 banks failed in the US, one-half of Broadway theaters were dark, a gallon of gas cost 10 cents, First Class stamps were 2 cents, Herbert Hoover was the President, and breadlines were everywhere, yet the musicals that opened remained upbeat and optimistic.

Tonya opened with “Get Happy” (Nine-Fifteen Revue) and wowed the crowd with her dramatic rendition of “Body & Soul” (Three’s a Crowd). Scott Coulter keeps getting better and better and sang a great arrangement of Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” (Girl Crazy) and a lively ‘Sunny Side of the Street” (Lew Leslies’ International Revue) and the fun “Take Me Back To Manhattan” (The New Yorkers). Christine Andreas performed “Dancing on the Ceiling” (Cut from Simple Simon) while a graceful Danny Gardner danced around her.  Christine Noll performed “Love For Sale” (The New Yorkers), a song born of the depression that takes on a special meaning having been written in hard times. The wonderful Mark Nadler sang Cole Porter’s “I Happen To Like New York” with his usual flair.  The first act ended with Danny Gardner leading two other extraordinary dancers, Drew Humphrey and Bryan Hunt as he sang “I Got Rhythm” (Girl Crazy). Scott closed the Act by telling us that he will see us after the intermission in “34 years!”

Act 2 – 1964

1964 was the year of the Great Society, Johnson’s War on Poverty, and the signing of the Civil Rights Act. People were hungry for change, there were student protests, Martin Luther King was the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Price, New York had a World’s Fair, Ford produced the Mustang, and GI Joe became popular.  Also, it was a great year on Broadway with such shows as Hello Dolly, Funny Girl, Golden Boy, and Fiddler on the Roof.  

Tonya opened with Dolly’s “Before The Parade Passes By” and also sang a haunting rendition of “Night Song” from Golden Boy. Scott’s “It Only Takes a Moment” was particularly touching as it is usually sung by a woman. Christiane’s “Everybody Says Don’t (Anyone Can Whistle) was strong and emphatic along with the moving “Who Are You Now” cut from the film of Funny Girl. Christine Andreas is always a showstopper, proved it again singing two songs from Funny Girl, “People” and a dazzling “Don’t Rain On My Parade.”

Pedro, a graduate of AMDA who was in Scott’s Rising Stars series, performed “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler (unplugged), with some lyrics in Portuguese from his native Brazil.  However, it was only mildly successful as he is way too young for the part, and tended to over act the role. From Fiddler, Mark Nadler delivered an exuberant version of “To Life” always leaving his audiences smiling and wanting more.  Danny Gardner sang “I Had A Ball” from the show of the same title performing a lovely dance with the lithe Kelly Sheehan. He brought the house down at the end of the show singing and dancing “Strike Up the Band” with Drew and Kelly and as a surprise, The Brass Quartet (Frank Huber & Andrew Smith on trumpet; Dan Lerner & Brandon Moddie, trombone) came on stage to play for the finale as the entire cast joined in the song for their well deserved bows. A strong start for the first show in the 2018 series!

Upcoming in the series are three more concerts:

 

March 26th – Broadway Musicals of 1947 & 1966

May 21st – Broadway Musicals of 1956 & 1975

June 18 – Broadway Musicals of 1988 & 2017.

 

Visit: TheTownHall.org/Broadway-By-The-Year

 

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