The 1920s and Broadway by the Year
By Sandi Durell
It’s one stop shopping when you attend a Scott Siegel event. He’s created, written and hosts an all encompassing evening – the music, the talent, the backstage information all neatly wrapped up in two hours at Town Hall on February 27 in this 17th Year of Broadway by the Year featuring songwriters (The Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Sigmund Romberg and more) of the 20s – the decade when Broadway led up to the Great Depression. Selling tickets was no easy feat, some shows surviving longer than others, and it was also a time when jazz emerged on the Great White Way.
With long time friend, musical director Ross Patterson, featuring Tom Hubbard on bass and Eric Halvorson on drums, the evening presented music from The Vagabond King (1925), The New Moon (1928), The Desert Song (1926) giving William Michals an opportunity to show off his glorious booming baritone, sans microphone, with “One Alone” and more.
Beth Malone (Fun Home) took her turn at “My Man” (Ziegfeld Follies, 1921) and audience favorite Robert Cuccioli, always mellow and sincere, gave pause to “My Heart Stood Still” (A Connecticut Yankee, 1927) and a heart warming version of “What’ll I Do” (Music Box Review, 1923).
The purity of Jill Paice’ soprano found a home in “A Ship Without a Sail” (Heads Up, 1929) while feisty and plucky Mary Testa was trying to “Find Me a Primitive Man” (Fifty Million Frenchmen, 1929), taking a saucy turn on “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man” (Show Boat, 1927).
Meanwhile Danny Gardner was all revved up tapping and singing to “S’Wonderful” (Funny Face, 1927) with four loveable gals in tow, Bailey Callahan, Mindy Moeller, Danelle Morgan and Katie Walker. Beth Malone got a second turn singing and dancing with these gals to “Toot Toot Tootsie” (Bombo 1921). Danny’s tappin’ feet came back for seconds with Brent McBeth and John Scacchetti in “I Want to Be Happy” (No,No, Nanette, 1925).
The dulcet soprano tones of Carolee Carmello soared with “The Man I Love” (Lady, Be Good 1924) and again together with Robert Cuccioli on the favorite “Make Believe” (Show Boat, 1927).
The big ending of “Fascinating Rhythm” (Lady, Be Good 1924) found the entire cast, led by Carolee Carmello and Mary Testa, front and center. All in all, some familiar favorite songs but, more so, sung by some of the finest voices from Broadway.
Next up on March 27 at 8 pm, The Broadway Musicals of the 1940’s with music from Rodgers & Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Kurt Weill and others.
Photos: Maryann Lopinto