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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at Town Hall

By Mervyn Rothstein

  Julia Murney

The night after Gypsy closed at City Center, theatergoers filled Town Hall for a concert that might appropriately have been called Gypsies.

The actual title was All Singin' All Dancin'. It was choreographed, co-written and directed by Noah Racey, who's appearing these days in Curtains. The cast of 34 (yes, 34!) included a few big or biggish names - Karen Ziemba, Julia Murney (the current Elphaba in Wicked), Jack Noseworthy, Edward Hibbert- but most of the performers were those Broadway stalwarts known as gypsies who voyage from show to show, largely because of their love of the theater.

And while it's entirely possible that some of them may eventually become headliners, most of the stars that night were in the audience: John Kander, David Hyde Pierce and Debra Monk were present to support their Curtains colleague, and they were joined by the likes of Tommy Tune, Jerry Mitchell and the scenic designer Tony Walton.

The evening was the final presentation in Scott Siegel's Summer Broadway Festival, a first for Siegel, who is mostly known for his highly successful Broadway by the Year series. And by and large, it was delightful, an addition to the reasons theater aficionados should be grateful to Siegel for the pleasures he provides.

Indeed, there were significant ups and downs among the 23 numbers performed. But the hits easily topped the misses. And a Siegel concert that includes music and lyrics by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sheldon Harnick, Kander and Ebb, Frank Loesser, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Eubie Blake, Cole Porter and Adam Guettel has to be worth attending.

The goal was to offer more choreography than Siegel's series usually provides, and in doing so Racey, in his New York directing and choreographing debut, showed that he has much talent, and potential.

This review is on the short side, so let's focus on some of the highlights. The prize for "best of show" easily went to Murney, who in Act One raced wittily and appropriately - enunciation perfectly intact - through Loesser's "Can't Stop Talkin' About Him," from the 1950 movie "Let's Dance," and then returned in Act Two with a heart-rending rendition of Sondheim's "Good Thing Going" and "Not a Day Goes By" from Merrily We Roll Along.

Tied for a close second were "Hot Feet," Kendrick Jones' rapid-fire tap tribute to Eubie Blake and Gregory Hines; a clever all-female rendition of "Cool" from West Side Story; Karen Ziemba's "And the World Goes Round," a torchy homage to Kander and Fred Ebb; and a poignant all-male version of Craig Carnelia's "What You'd Call a Dream," from Cast of Thousands.

A special jury prize should go to Meredith Patterson(recently seen in Face the Music at City Center) and Shonn Wiley(Stairway to Paradise, also at City Center) for an often hilarious medley, complete with choreography, of songs extremely inappropriate to dance to - among them "Tomorrow Belongs to Me," the Nazi-like theme from The Sound of Music; "Poor Judd Is Dead," from Oklahoma!, and "I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," from Dreamgirls. The number perhaps went on a little too long and stretched the joke a bit too far, but it was a fun idea.

The concert took place on the day the great film director Ingmar Bergman died. So it seemed appropriate that as the audience left Town Hall, there were many smiles of a summer night.


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