The Broadway Villains Party

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Jason Michael Snow, Nick Adams, Jason Lee Graham

 

 

by Alix Cohen

 

This is a rather neat idea, though curiously appearing way before Halloween. Villains of

every stripe from psychopaths to cartoons, from musicalized history to a gathering of

witches, entertain us with songs rarely performed and often wickedly clever. Choices cover

the dark side with comprehension and glee.

 

“Once upon a time, there lived young princes and princesses who out of the goodness of

their hearts were destined to live happily ever after…” BORING!

 

Host/vocalist Amy Jo Jackson introduces each character without cloying fanfare, keeping

the evening moving. MD/Pianist Brian Nash offers excellent arrangements and appealingly

dense, dramatic accompaniment. Whoever oversaw costuming does a bang up job reflecting

characters without undue fuss. A packed show included the following highlights:

 

Nick Adams and Jason Michael Snow offer a decidedly gay “Gaston” and friend without

going over the top. (Beauty and the Beast‐Alan Menken/Howard Ashman) Patter is loosey

goosey valley boy, innuendo blossoms into a serious dip ending with a kiss. Both actors are

amusing in contemporized characterization. Both have fine voices.

 

As Cruella DeVille (101 Dalmatians– Mel Leven), Nathan Lee Graham is a hoot and a half.

Entering from the audience, so everyone gets a gander at her imaginative outfit and finger-in‐electrical‐socket wig, the performer gives us both monologue and song relishing her

nefarious pursuits like a gourmet meal. Over‐the‐top actually works here.

 

Amy Jo Jackson’s Witch Medley embraces practitioners from Hocus Pocus, Into the Woods, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Wicked, and The Wiz to name a few‐ a great compilation. Transitions are smooth. Jackson is fun but might take it down a notch in favor of acting over flamboyance. She clearly has a good instrument, but histrionics are no favor to vocals.

 

There are two showstoppers: Brian Charles Rooney’s firebrand political tirade “Molasses to

Rum” (1776‐ Sherman Edwards) would incite anyone, though in this case, the representative

from South Carolina is supporting slaves as “black gold.” The performer’s gorgeous

baritone, exquisite control, and total investment are moving and impressive.

 

“And Eve Was Weak” (Carrie Michael Gore/Dean Pichford) arrives as powerful Grand

Guignol in the hands of Caroline Bowman as Carrie and Julia Murney as her mother. Operatic

theatricality and superb vocals make this scenario sheer evil. Both women are terrific, with

Murney’s fire and brimstone admonitions soaring among us like threats. I’m now sorry I

missed the original musical.

 

Also featuring: A very cool Lance Roberts channeling the young Ben Vereen in Pippin (this

actor would make a superior Sportin’ LifePorgy and Bess), the reliably resonant Patrick Page, a cartoonish Eddie Cooper effectively inhabiting Tim Burton material, Dave Thomas Brown who eschews all nuance in an otherwise funny song, Brynn O’Malley‐out of place as the only one onstage playing it straight, MJ Rodriguez‐ an Acid Queen lacking malignancy, Ruthie Ann Miles‐ good vocal but missing malevolence, and Nikka Graff Lanzarone‐ a Spider Woman without appropriate sexual innuendo.

 

Photos by Maryann Lopinto

 

The Broadway Villains Party

Host: Amy Jo Jackson

Musical Director/Piano‐Brian Nash

Feinstein’s/54 Below

September 15, 2016

Venue Calendar: https://54below.com/calendar/

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