Friday, May 14, 2010

The Broadway Musicals of 1966

Pretty much every "Broadway By the Year" concert needs at least one very popular musical to highlight, along with some semi-popular titles and rarities. "The Broadway Musicals of 1966" offered three extremely familiar, easily revivable musicals - "Cabaret," "Mame" and "Sweet Charity" - along with vaguely familiar material like "The Apple Tree," "Superman," and "I Do! I Do,!" and the forgotten flops "Pousse Cafe" and "Walking Happy." One flop, "A Joyful Noise," was not represented at all during the concert.

Just as "The Broadway Musicals of 1948" opened with "Another Opening" from "Kiss Me Kate," of course "The Broadway of Musicals of 1966" was going to open with "Wilkommen" from "Cabaret." Jeffry Denman, who also directed and choreographed, entered as a lively and playful Emcee, far more friendly than Alan Cumming's desperately trashy revision of the role in the 1998 Roundabout revival. In that revival, dialogue was added where the emcee introduced each Kit Kat Girl. Here, Denman added dialogue to humorously describe each the show's other performers.

As always, Denman's staging was top-notch and thoroughly detailed. The show's finale, "Rhythm of Life" from "Sweet Charity," was spectacular. But I did feel that "Money, Money" from "Cabaret," where Denman performed with two female backup dancers, landed like a dud. The aggressive song did not work well out of the show's context.

And furthermore, what was "Money, Money" doing in a concert called "The Broadway Musicals of 1966"? It was written for the 1970s film version, which host Scott Siegel even admitted to. No offense, but the concert is supposed to be about 1966, not films based on musicals from 1966. You gotta play by your own rules. And wouldn't it have been more interesting to perform "Sitting Pretty," the original version of the "Money Song." But I'm just being overdramatic and silly complaining about such a petty thing. Anyway...

"There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This," as performed by Sara Gettelfinger, Jennifer Rias and Elizabeth Clinard with all the lead-in dialogue, was well done, but the song-and-dance routine was simply too large, fast and aggressive as a dance number to successfully choreograph around Ross Patterson's band and Scott Siegel's podium. On the other hand, "Big Spender" looked sexily convincing, with the gals situated on different positions throughout the stage, including one sitting on the piano.

"I Do! I Do!" received quite a lot of attention, while "The Apple Tree" was surprisingly ignored, receivingly only a single song - "Gorgeous," performed by the excellent Michele Ragusa. Why no "What Makes Me Love Him" or "Forbidden Fruit"? It's not like Marc Kudisch owns the performance rights to the latter song.

The individual solo and duet spots were uniformly well-acted and sung, particularly Kerry O'Malley's desperately emotional rendition of "Cabaret" and confident version of "You've Got Possibilities," Liz Callaway's characteristically expert performances of "If He Walked Into My Life Today" and "where Am I Going?," and Michele Ragusa's very funny version of "Gooch's Song."

But perhaps the most memorable solo came from an eight year old, Mercer Patterson, son of music director and pianist Ross Patterson. Alas, my father was unable to get me really awesome gigs like that when I was in grade school.

Enclosed is a full list of the songs performed:

ACT ONE
Wilkommen (CABARET) Company
You've Got Possibilities (IT'S A BIRD. . . IT'S A PLANE. . . IT'S SUPERMAN) Kerry O'Malley
If My Friends Could See Me Now (SWEET CHARITY) Meredith Patterson
Gooch's Song (MAME) Michele Ragusa
Bosom Buddies (MAME) Kerry O'Malley & Sara Gettelfinger
Money, Money (CABARET - film) Jeffry Denman, Elizabeth Clinard, Jennifer Rias
Where Am I Going? (SWEET CHARITY) Liz Callaway
I Love My Wife (I DO! I DO!) Shoran Wiley & Meredith Patterson
The Honeymoon is Over (I DO! I DO!) Robert Cuccioli & Michele Ragusa My Best Girl (MAME) Mercer Patterson
What Makes It Happen? (WALKING HAPPY) Carole J. Bufford
There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This (SWEET CHARITY) Sara Gettelfinger, Jennifer Rias, Elizabeth Clinard

ACT TWO
We Need A Little Christmas (MAME) Bob Stillman, Elizabeth Clinard, Meredith Patterson, Shoran Wiley
Big Spender (SWEET CHARITY) Meredith Patterson, Kerry O'Malley, Sara Gettelfinger, Jennifer Rias, Elizabeth Clinard
Gorgeous (THE APPLE TREE) Michele Ragusa
The Spider & the Fly (POUSSE-CAFE) Jennifer Rias with Shoran Wiley & Jeffry Denman
Married (CABARET) Kerry O'Malley & Bob Stillman
Too Many Tomorrows (SWEET CHARITY) Robert Cuccioli
Walking Happy (WALKING HAPPY) Jeffry Denman
If He Walked Into My Life (MAME) Liz Callaway My Cup Runneth Over (I DO! I DO!) Bob Stillman
Cabaret (CABARET) Kerry O'Malley
Rhythm of Life (SWEET CHARITY) Company

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