BBTY: Broadway Musicals of the 1940s
Scott Siegel’s Broadway By The Year celebrated the iconic musicals of the 1940’s at Town Hall on March 27, 2017
by Linda Amiel Burns
Hard to believe that Scott Siegel’s Broadway By The Year series began seventeen years ago and is still going strong. On March 27, 2017 Scott presented The Broadway Musicals of the 1940’s, a rich and vibrant decade that brought us many famous shows like Oklahoma, South Pacific, Annie Get Your Gun, Finian’s Rainbow, Kiss Me Kate, Pal Joey and many more. Scott, who wrote, directed and hosted the evening, said that it was the “golden age” as these shows were written by such legendary composers as Rodgers and Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Burton Lane & Yip Harburg, Harold Arlen and others.
Ross Patterson, who has been with the series from its inception, served as Music Director on Piano leading his “Little Big Band” with Randy Landau on bass, and Jared Schonig on drums.
The brilliant cast was well chosen for this glorious material featuring Klea Blackhurst, Ben Davis, Steve (The Whistler) Herbst, Kendrick Jones, Lesli Margherita, Daniel Reichard, Karen Ziemba and the dance team of Heather & Lou (Lou Brockman & Heather Gehring).
The smash hit Oklahoma opened in 1943 at a time when WWII was raging. It is a show of optimism, and began a new trend of the “book musical” where the songs and dances were fully integrated into the play. It was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s first collaboration and ran for an unprecedented 2,212 performances. Ben Davis opened the show with “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” that became a huge hit and was recorded by nearly every star of the era. South Pacific opened in 1949 and was well represented by Daniel Reichard’s beautiful rendition of “Younger Than Springtime” and later “Cockeyed Optimist” usually sung by a woman. A special treat was “Some Enchanted Evening” whistled beautifully by Steve Herbst.
Klea Blackhurst sang “Taking a Chance on Love” from Cabin In the Sky (1940) as Kendrick Jones danced to the tune with his remarkable choreography and style. Klea also scored with “That’s Him” from One Touch of Venus (1943) and her Ethel Merman voice was perfect for “I’ve Still Got My Health” from Panama Hattie (1940). Lesli Margarita interpretation of “I Hate Men” from Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate (1948) was one of the best I have ever heard. Then she wowed the audience with “Come Rain or Come Shine” from St. Louis Woman (1946) and battled with Ben Davis in Annie Get Your Gun’s “Anything You Can Do.” They also sang a stunning duet of “So In Love” from Kiss Me Kate.
The multi-talented Karen Ziemba sang a terrific arrangement of “I’ve Got The Sun in the Morning” from Annie and also performed the hit “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” from Finian’s Rainbow (1947). Her version of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” (from Pal Joey, 1940) was heartfelt. The show starred a young Gene Kelly who went on to Hollywood, and the rest is history. “I Could Write a Book” from that show was danced to perfection by the team of Heather & Lou. They also danced to Daniel Reichard singing “Old Devil Moon” from Finian’s Rainbow.
The evening closed with Klea singing a song that was almost cut from Annie Get Your Gun, the great anthem “There’s No Business Like Show Business” as the rest of the cast joined her to take their final bows. Thanks to Scott and his team for keeping these great songs of the past alive and educating audiences about our important musical history.
Photos: Maryann Lopinto
May 22 – The Broadway Musicals of 1997-2006
June 19 – The Broadway Musicals of 2007-2016
Visit: TheTownHall.org for more info.
Email Scott Siegel at: SiegelEntertainment@msn.com for tickets.