Bound For Broadway – Series at Merkin Hall

The Kaufman Music Center presented the 19th Season of “Bound For Broadway” at its Broadway Close Up Series at Merkin Hall hosted by Liz Callaway Oct. 2, 2017

Liz Callaway (Nancy Ford on piano)

 

by Linda Amiel Burns

 

This wonderful series, Bound For Broadway, began in 2001 to introduce audiences to the creative teams behind upcoming Broadway shows, meet the talent, and hear some of the composers songs.  Liz Callaway has been the charming and gracious host for the past 15 years and adds her own special sparkle to the proceedings.  Of the hundreds of musicals presented over the years, only a few actually were produced on Broadway including Avenue Q, Tuck Everlasting, Amelie, It Shoulda Been You and others. I am sure that many more shows were deserving of full productions, but a factor might have been prohibitive financial costs today to put a show up on the Great White Way.  Four very interesting shows were featured, some have had regional workshop productions, and all in different stages of development.

(L-R) Jodi Picoult, Samantha van Leer, Kate Anderson, Timothy Allen McDonald

Between the Lines

Based on the book by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer
Book by Timothy Allen McDonald
Music & lyrics by Elyssa Samsel & Kate Anderson

A 17-year-old girl’s life is turned upside down by her parents’ divorce. Forced to move to a new town and start a different school, Delilah finds herself escaping into fiction, developing a literary crush on a handsome prince in a book she is reading.

Famed novelist, Jodi Picoult, wrote this book for the Young Adult market with her then 13 year old daughter who was not able to attend. It became a best seller and she always felt that it would be a terrific musical and gathered the writing team together, choosing Tim to write the book rather than herself.

Wth Chris Gurr at the piano, we heard the title song, “Between the Lines” sung by Arielle Jacobs and Curt Hansen.  Danny Gardner was great performing “Out of Character,” and tap danced on a small board. Liz said it was probably the first time in all the years that anyone tapped on the stage in this series. Arielle returned to sing “Allie McAndrews” in a duet with Megan Siobhan Green.

(L-R)Tony Sheldon, Laura Dadap, Latoya Edwards, Josh Lerner, Daniel Yearwood

 

Bhangin’ It

Book by Rehana Lew Mirza and Mike Lew
Music & lyrics by Sam Willmott

Inspired by the high-stakes world of intercollegiate bhangra (Punjabi Indian folk dance) competitions, Bhangin’ It follows a bi-racial girl named Mary who gets kicked off her bhangra team for not being “Indian enough.” Mary and her best friend Sunita form a rag-tag multicultural bhangra team of their own. As the team prepares for the Nationals, they brace for a collision course with Mary’s former team. Along the way, Bhangin’ It wrestles with love, betrayal and the cultural traditions we inherit versus those we create.

This is a very interesting concept and most of the audience didn’t know about the Bhangra dance competitions. This does allow many types of music to be in the show. With composer Sam Willmot at the piano, the first song “If This were A Thing” was sung by Laura Dadap, Latoya Edwards, Daniel Yearwood, Josh Lerner and Tony Sheldon. “Dot, Dot, Dot” about two young people texting each other (Salena Qureshi & Daniel Yearwood) and as they sang, their texts appeared on the screen. The final song, “Khaha, Khana” was sung by Deep Singh as a singer performing her act in an Indian nightclub.

Lee Wexler

 

The Washington Square Park Project

Book, music & lyrics by Ben Wexler


Based on interview testimony and photography by Lee Wexler

Washington Square Park, 1986. The city is gentrifying, but the park is still full of a diverse assortment of characters who are rapidly getting closed in on by soaring real estate prices, police sweeps and the changing makeup of the neighborhood around them. Lee Wexler, the composer’s father, was a newcomer to the city and on his way to his dental practice when he picked up a camera. He documented the regulars of Washington Square through photos and interviews. When Ben discovered the photos and stories, he created these musical interviews creating a fascinating song cycle/theater piece.

Ben Wexler demonstrated his remarkable songwriting and vocal abilities as he played and sang three songs from the cycle  “Lordy, Lordy,” “Top of the World” and “Killin Time,” each song sung as a different character whose photo appeared on the screen. He mentioned that he was deciding whether to make this a one man show or have ten people each singing one of the songs. Whatever his decision, this super talented young man made a great impression on the audience as they brought him back for a second bow. It will be interesting to see how this show develops.

(L-R)Liz Callaway, Gretchen Cryer, Nancy Ford

 

Still Getting My Act Together

Book & lyrics by Gretchen Cryer
Music by Nancy Ford

This sequel to Cryer and Ford’s 1978 hit musical I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road visits the same characters 30 years later. Heather Jones and her Liberated Men’s Band have gone their separate ways over the last three decades, but Heather decides to get the old band together again. She figures it’s never too late to start over to live your dream. In spite of the fact that they are all nearing retirement age, the band enthusiastically agrees. They will get this new act together and take it on the road!

What a treat to see the great team of Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford still able to thrill us with their music. With Nancy at the piano, Gretchen performed “Hello, World” as Heather announcing that she is still singing and trying to figure it all out. The next song was a terrific acting piece, “Change Doesn’t Happen Overnight” as a mother brought up in the 50’s wanting to be sure to empower her daughter who is now free to be anything she wants.  Nancy plays the daughter who decides after becoming a “singing physicist” that she wants to get married and stay home with the kids! The last one was an audience favorite, “It Ain’t Over Lil It’s Over” emphasizing that age is relative and that there is still a lot of life to live and enjoy.  This sequel to their famed show, is something that we are all looking forward to.

To bring this splendid evening to a close, Liz performed a beautiful and heartfelt rendition of “Old Friend” from Getting My Act Together that was as relevant today as when it was written by this talented team in the 70’s.

Photos: David Andrako                     

 
For the schedule of events at the Kaufman:
KaufmanMusicCenter.org/MCH  or phone 212 501-3330
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