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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at Town Hall

By Matt Windman

  Debbie Gravitte

There are more than enough repeat performers at Broadway By the Year to make it feel as though the concert series has its own in-house cast. Among them are certainly Emily Skinner, Jeffrey Denman, Marc Kudisch, and Scott Coulter. And it just so happens that producer-host Scott Siegel has recruited all four of them to direct all four of this year's BBTY concerts.

The result is that all the BBTY concerts of the past few years have displayed a consistently similar, generally excellent feel and foundation. These directors all understand the Town Hall environment, the BBTY audience, and how to draw out a crowd-pleasing night of musical theater aided by unamplified singing, dazzling choreography and Ross Patterson and his excellent Little Big Band. And Scott Coulter's oversight on BBTY 1954, as expected, drew another solid, standout, standing ovation night musical entertainment.

Unlike BBTY 1947, where the romantic, weepy scores of Finian's Rainbow and Brigadoon were ogled over in addition to rarities like Allegro and Street Scene, BBTY 1954 offered mostly familiar material from first-rate musical comedies The Pajama Game, Peter Pan and The Boyfriend. The lesser-known shows, most of which were also grade-A, included Fanny, House of Flowers and The Golden Apple.

We were informed that the concert set a new record for the largest BBTY cast to date: 16 performers. (Clearly, it doesn't hurt to have Bank of America as your new sponsor.) The cast was quite a cross-section of musical theater, including Little Mermaid headliners Sierra Boggess and Sean Palmer, character actors like Jen Cody and Mark Price, to dancers like Noah Racey and Melinda Sullivan, and longtime Broadway vets like Harvey Evans, Bert Michaels and Don Percassie, who joined together for I Won't Grow Up from Peter Pan.

Some of the many highlights included Won't You Charleston With Me, from The Boyfriend with Mark Price and Jen Cody, There Once Was a Man from The Pajama Game, with Sierra Boggess and Cheyenne Jackson and Steam Heat with Noah Racey and Melinda Sullivan.

Solo spots included the title song of Fanny (Sean Palmer), I'm Flying from Peter Pan (Scott Coulter), Hey There from The Pajama Game (Cheyenne Jackson), Captain Hook's Waltz from Peter Pan (Paul Schoeffler, complete with a plastic toy hook and long black wig), the Lottie Gibson Specialty from By the Beautiful Sea (Jen Cody), Sleepin' Bee from House of Flowers (Natalie Venetia Belcon), and I'm Not At All in Love from Pajama Game (Debbie Gravitte).


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