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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
BROADWAY BY THE YEAR-1924
at Town Hall

SING, SING, SING, SING
By MERVYN ROTHSTEIN

  Marc Kudisch/Ph: Joseph Marzullo

For the first concert this season of Scott Siegel's Broadway by the Year series at Town Hall, the year was 1924. It's the ninth season, and the evening made it clear that the series gets better by the year.

In 1924, more than 200 shows opened on Broadway. For musicals, as Siegel said in his introduction, it was a time on the cusp- the beginning of a transition from the operetta ro the age of jazz and the birth of the modern musical theater.

Broadway was home that year to Rose Marie and The Student Prince, as well as Ira and George Gershwin's Lady, Be Good, Irving Berlin's Music Box Review, Dear Sir by Howard Dietz and Jerome Kern and the Greenwich Village Follies of 1924, which included the work of Cole Porter. It was also the year that George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue had its premiere at the Aeolian Hall on West 42nd Street.

The evening consisted of twenty-three songs in two hours, 15 minutes, performed by a hugely talented cast of Broadway veterans and and relative newcomers. There were so many highlights, it's impossible to mention them all.

James Barbour ( A Tale of Two Cities) lent beauty and simplicity to "Serenade" from The Student Prince, a difficult song to sing that he made sound easy. Kendrick Jones, a Broadway of the Year regular, magically tap-danced to the Gershwin's "Oh Lady Be Good", Douglas Farber and Philip Braham's "Limehouse Blues"(from a British import, Charlot's Revue of 1924), and "Fascinating Rhythm" from Lady, Be Good. ( Several other cast members brought their tap-dancing feet to West 43rd Street to make "Fascinating Rhythm" a joyful noise.) The jazz-folk- Dixieland rhythms of the Howard Fishman Quartet lit up "Limehouse" and "Rhythm".

Marc Kudisch's deep and smooth Broadway sound filled the hall with "Somebody Loves Me" ( George Gershwin, Ballard Macdonald and B. G. De Sylva, from George White's Scandals of 1924). Kudisch and Sarah Jane McMahon almost outdid Nelson Eddy and Jeannette MacDonald on "Indian Love Call," from Rose Marie. Kudisch is a glorious performer who needs just one major Broadway musical to become a top star-he's appearing this spring on Broadway in 9 to 5: The Musical, and maybe that will be his breakout performance.

Then there was the song that Gershwin cut from Lady, Be Good, " Strike Up the Band " and Rosalie-"The Man I Love," movingly sung by Kerry O'Malley, last seen on Broadway this season in White Christmas. Her White Christmas colleague, Jeffrey Denman, who directed and choreographed the evening, sang and danced, accompanied by his wife, Erin Denman, with grace and humor, to "I'd Rather Charleston," by George Gershwin and Desmond Carter, also from Lady, Be Good.

There were laughs- Jason Graae urged "Don't Send Me Back to Petrograd" (from Berlin's Music Box Revue of 1924),and essayed "Tulip Time in Sing Sing" ('I wish I were back/With a rock or two to crack') by P.G. Wodehouse and Jerome Kern from Sitting Pretty.

Those were just some of the evening's pleasures. The only thing there was more of than music at Town Hall was applause.

Siegel's concert series is no longer a secret joy, since many New Yorkers know about it and attend regularly. But if you've never been and you're a Broadway aficionado- or even if you want to learn a bit<

 


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