Broadway By The Year – Musicals 1928 and 1935

Broadway By The Year celebrates 19th Season with a concert of musicals born in the years 1928 and 1935 at The Town Hall on Monday, February 25, 2019

Kyle Selig, Erika Hennigsen, Scott Siegel, Ali Ewoldt and John Easterlin

Curtain Call

 

by Linda Amiel Burns

 

After nearly 20 years celebrating the songs, anecdotes, and behind the scenes stories of the great American musicals of the past, the renowned Broadway By The Year Series continually surprises us with the quality of the shows, performers, and narrative. This is due to the talents of Scott Siegel, the creator, writer, director and host who with his team has made this a New York institution. From the very beginning Ross Patterson and his “Little Big Band” with Tom Hubbard on bass, and Eric Halvorson on drums, has provided amazing and lush accompaniment for the singers and dancers. 

When Scott Siegel was introduced, instead of going behind the podium as usual, he limped with a cane to Center Stage to thank those who have supported and prayed for him after a devastating accident in October while riding on a CitiBike sans helmet!  Yesterday’s New York Times featured an article by James Barron about Scott and Broadway By The Year, describing what happened and the difficult recovery since that time. Still with all that going on, he was able to produce a remarkable evening of song and dance, along with other recent shows.

 

Danny Gardner and Dancer

Thanks to dancer and choreographer Danny Gardner, the spectacular opening number set the tone as Act 1 celebrated the songs and shows from musicals in 1928, a year before the great stock market crash. Gershwin’s “Crazy Rhythm” from Here’s Howe, was danced by Danny Garner and the BBTY Dance Troupe (Bailey Callahan, Katelyn Gaffney, Alicia Jin, Melinda Moeller, Danelle Morgan, Elizabeth Peterson, Drew Humphrey, Bryan Hunt, Danny McHugh, and Daniel Plimpton). 

 

Ali Ewoldt and John Easterlin

 

It was the last year of the “roaring 20’s,” the first year of the Oscars, and the start of Mickey Mouse, The Group Theater and operettas on Broadway such as The New Moon.  Soprano Ali Ewoldt and 4-time Grammy winner John Easterlin dueted on the hit “Wanting You” from that show, unplugged, without microphones as the audience would have experienced it then. Ali also wowed us with “Lover, Come Back to Me” and the golden voice of Quentin Earl Darrington performed “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise” from the same show. The incredible Chuck Cooper performed a brilliant fun rendition of “Makin’ Whoopee” from the Eddie Cantor show of the same name. Emily Janes from this summer’s Broadway’s Rising Stars made an impressive solo debut with “Love Me or Leave Me,” the song introduced by Ruth Etting from Whoopee that eventually became her signature song.  

Chuck Cooper

 

Emily Janes

The standard “I Can’t Give you Anything But Love” (Blackbirds of 1928) was beautifully performed by Kyle Selig who is currently in Mean Girls as is Erika Hennigsen who couldn’t have sung Cole Porter’s “Let’s Do It” (Paris) any better. To close the first act, The BBTY Chorus vigorously sang “Stout-hearted Men” (The New Moon) with John Easterlin and then the Chorus performing the amusing “Hello, I Must Be Going from Animal Crackers – just in time for the intermission.

Erika Hennigsen and Kyle Selig

Only seven years later 1935, America found itself in the depths of the Great Depression and war clouds were gathering as Germany began to rearm and passed the Nuremberg laws to strip Jews of their civil rights. President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, monopoly was introduced as well as sliced bread. Alcoholics Anonymous and the lobotomy were invented. Only 10 musicals opened and none turned a profit. However, one of those has become a classic, Porgy and Bess and Chuck Cooper sang, “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin” along with “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” Ali performed the biggest hit from that show “Summertime” (unplugged). Erika sang a lovely “Red Sails in the Sunset” from Provincetown Follies and Kyle a thoughtful, reminiscing version of “Just One of Those Things.” (Jubilee).

 

Quentin Earl Darrington

 

Billy Rose produced Jumbo and it was one of the biggest hits of the year. Erika and Kyle sang the rarely performed duet “Over and Over Again” and Quentin’s  heartfelt “My Romance” was one of the highlights of the evening and it was evident why the song has become a standard.  

Danny Gardner reinvented “Got a Bran’ New Suit” from At Home Abroad as he and some members of the BBTY Dance Troupe entered, each singing that they were waiting for a girl who had sold them a suit and finally realizing it was the same girl.  When Kelly Sheehan entered, she greeted the four men on stage but danced over to kiss Scott at the podium and that was good for a laugh. The show closed with the gorgeous “Begin the Beguine (Jubilee) with Danny singing as the Dance Troupe performed gracefully to the beautiful music. Hard to believe that this breathtaking number was rehearsed, learned and performed for one night only!  The entire cast came on stage to a well deserved standing ovation for a delightful show!

There are still three more concerts available.

 Photos: Maryann Lopinto

TheTownHall.org/BBTY & 1-800 -982-2787 for tickets.

3/25 – 1943 & 1951

4/20 – 1965 & 1978

6/17 –  1987 & 2015

Broadway Rising Stars – 7/22

 

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