Post image for Theater Review: BROADWAY BY THE YEAR: “FROM ZIEGFELD TO MOULIN ROUGE!” (The Town Hall)

by Kevin Vavasseur on June 23, 2022

in Concerts / Events,Theater-New York

Scott Siegal’s latest installment in his ongoing homage to commercial Broadway, appropriately titled Broadway By The Year, is an entertaining and enjoyable production that starts down memory lane but thrillingly winds its way back to our Broadway present. Featuring solid and familiar Broadway performers, a chorus of synchronized Rockettes and a stunning eighteen-year-old newcomer, Mr. Siegel’s lastest theater history class, which utilizes performers instead of powerpoints, is a welcome gift to musical theater aficionados of all ages.

Created, written, directed and hosted by the multi-talented Mr. Siegel, this latest outing is titled, From Ziegfeld to Moulin Rouge!. Within that framework, the revue takes us to the time when the great showman Florenz Ziegfeld walked the boards. From there, Mr. Siegal’s well-researched and educational intros lead this top-notch cast through songs and dances representative of various musical revue shows and jukebox musicals. The evening’s primary focus is these types of toe-tapping performances which, Mr. Siegel points out, were once the most produced type of show on Broadway and have helped keep the Great White Way profitable, lo these many years.

To help make this musical point, the production borrows from the worlds of Broadway, opera, jazz and even television featuring stunning performers from these areas doing what they do best. While the diversity of the main cast does not match the diversity of their musical backgrounds, these awarded and lauded singers all deliver mesmerizing performances that are exciting to witness.

Opera star John Easterlin starts the show with a rousing performance of A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody. Mr. Easterlin’s strong and beautiful tenor voice takes us right back to the twenties. Following and perhaps even more defining of the focus for the night is cabaret and Broadway performer Douglas Lardiner’s languid and soulful rendition of The Beatles classic hit, Yesterday. Mr. Lardiner’s velvet baritone made this ballad even more thoughtful and reflective than usual. Broadway favorite Melissa Errico then brought all the energy and pizazz any theater audience could wish for with her knowing performance of Life Upon The Wicked Stage from Showboat and naughty performance of Confession from The Band Wagon Revue. Ms. Errico’s talent is such that she can enthrall an audience simply by standing center-stage and telling a story – which she did by sharing an amusing opening anecdote about her favorite aunt who had actually been a Ziegfeld Girl.

Broadway stalwart Danny Gardiner, who also choreographed the revue’s terrific dancing, kept us in the Band Wagon with a melancholy rendition of Dancing In The Dark that included a beautiful pas de deux he danced with the wonderful Kelly Sheehan. The show then took a surprising and joyous turn when eighteen year old musical prodigy, Anais Reno took the stage. With a career singing jazz that is already the envy of singers many years her senior, the young Ms. Reno proved she deserves all the hype with her lush, jazzy and wise-beyond-her-years performance of Stardust. Broadway veteran Ryan Knowles soon followed, almost stopping the show by putting his luxurious and thrillingly deep bass voice to great use singing Brother Can You Spare A Dime. The fabulous Haley Swindell soon followed with a beautifully acted and powerfully sung rendition of Sondheim’s Losing My Mind. In the first act closer, phenomenal dancers Mary Donnelly, Courtney File, Kelty Ober, Alexis Payton,, LaTarika Pierce, Jaclyn Salerno,

Emma Schultz and Kelly Sheehan proved why they are Rockettes by demonstrating just how fascinating that rhythm can be.

The second act was more of the fabulous same with all of the performers returning and performing songs that moved us closer to the present day. Showing how incredibly versatile these performers are, their second act appearances were often in different style and tone than their first act appearances. Also in this act, legit television star Tony Danza surprised and delighted with his night club schtick and winning voice, performing a short tribute to Frank Sinatra. Accompanied by pianist Joe Davidian, Mr. Danza proved to be as legit a performer onstage as he is on television. Other than Mr. Danza’s section, the entire production was accompanied by the amazing three piece combo of Ross Patterson, Adam Anderson and Eric Halvorson. Under Mr. Patterson’s direction, these excellent musicians delivered a sound much bigger than their numbers and proved adept at playing every musical style required..

This was my first time to Broadway By The Year but it won’t be my last visit to this annual musical series. Combining education and entertainment, Mr. Siegel and his team produced a deeply felt love letter to Broadway that was as enjoyable as it was informative. To borrow from the brothers Gershwin, who could ask for anything more?

The Town Hall, 123 W. 43rd Street
played May 23, 2022
for more shows and dates, visit Town Hall

UPCOMING Broadway by the Year shows:

June 27, 2022 at 8PM
Broadway by the Year: ALMOST ON BROADWAY
Songs from shows that played off-Broadway and around the country

The world of theater music is full of songs that leapt to fame from shows that never actually made it to Broadway. For the first time in its 21-year history, Broadway by the Year will venture outside the confines of Broadway to honor the brilliant songs born Off-Broadway and in shows that played everywhere but Broadway. Just a small sampling of Off-Broadway shows that launched famous songs includes Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, Bat Boy, Beehive and, of course, The Fantasticks. Then there are the shows that never made it to Broadway, like The Baker’s Wife, Zorro, and The Witches of Eastwick.

September 19, 2022 at 8PM

It’s an awesomely big subject, but Broadway by the Year will bring it to you in an explosion of tap, ballroom, jazz, ballet, and more! From George M. Cohan, Fred & Adele Astaire, and the dancing feet of 42nd Street, right up to the brilliance of Andy Blankenbeuler’s choreography for In the Heights and Hamilton — and the world of Broadway dance that swirls in-between. A cast of brilliant Broadway singer-dancers will be on display in this, Broadway by the Year’s most ambitious concert event in its 21 year history.

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This unique, critically acclaimed series created, written, hosted, and directed by Scott Siegel is peppered with history-making events. Broadway by the Year introduced Stephanie J. Block to the New York City theater audience. And it was Broadway by the Year that starred Jessie Mueller in her first concert appearance in New York after she was first seen on Broadway in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Broadway by the Year pioneered the use of dance in a one-night only concert format and they have and continue to highlight the Broadway voice by introducing unplugged performances, using no microphones.

Town Hall has played an integral part in the electrifying cultural fabric of New York City for more than 100 years. A group of Suffragists’ fight for the 19th Amendment led them to build a meeting space to educate people on the important issues of the day. During its construction, the 19th Amendment was passed, and on January 12, 1921 The Town Hall opened its doors and took on a double meaning: as a symbol of the victory sought by its founders, and as a spark for a new, more optimistic climate. In 1921, German composer Richard Strauss performed a series of concerts that cemented the Hall’s reputation as an ideal venue for musical performances. Since, Town Hall has been home to countless musical milestones: The US debuts of Strauss, and Isaac Stern; Marian Anderson’s first New York recital; in 1945, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker introduced bebop to the world; Bob Dylan’s first major concert in ’63; and much, much more.

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