Last month, I went to the Broadway Originals Concert, the last event of the Broadway Cabaret Festival at Town Hall. The afternoon concert Christiane Noll (Ragtime), Stephanie D'Abruzzo and John Tartaglia (Avenue Q), Tom Wopat (Annie Get Your Gun, A Catered Affair), Christa Moore (Big, Gypsy), Maureen Silliman (Shenandoah, I Remember Mama), Sarah Uriate Berry (A Light in the Piazza), Jo Sullivan Loesser (The Most Happy Fella), Lucy Arnez (They're Playing Our Song), Carole Demas (Grease), Loni Ackerman (No, No, Nanette, Evita), Nancy Opel (Urinetown, Triumph of Love) and cabaret legend Marilyn Maye. The show was directed by Michele Lee (Seesaw, Bravo Giavonni), and most exciting to me, who was also the headliner.
It was fun to hear these Broadway singers reprise some of the songs that they originated or performed in Broadway shows. They also shared funny or poignant stories from mishaps or events connected with the show. Stephanie D. Abruzzo told her about story about the time that Lauren Bacall came backstage after Avenue Q and told her that she couldn't wait to sing along with the cast album to "It Sucks to be Me." Nancy Opel told of how Urine Town went on with the show just days after 9/11 - when the cast exited the stage door, they were greeted with a big crowd of grownded flight attendants who were treated to the show by the producers.
The most tear jerking story came from Michele Lee who told of performing the reprise of "I Believe In You" from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying after the assissignation of President Kennedy. She then sang the song and I don't believe there was a dry eye in the house.
A special treat was hearing Marilyn Maye perform songs that she actually recorded on vinyl before the shows were produced on Broadway - "Step To The Rear," "Sherry," "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" and "Cabaret." She also included the theme song from the 1960s Lincoln Mercury commercial that she recorded to the tune of "Step to the Rear."
I have long been a fan of Michele Lee's for a long time and this was my first opportunity to hear her perform live. I've played the shit out of her numbers "Nobody Does It Like Me" from Seesaw and "I'm All I've Got" from Bravo Giovonni, as well as her solo album Taste of the Fantastic. She was just as fabulous as I knew she would be and hearing her perform these favorites live from a thrilling experience. She also sang "I'm Way Ahead" from Seesaw which she prefaced with the tape recorded voice of composer Cy Coleman playing and singing the song for her.