Monday, October 17, 2011

Broadway Originals at Town Hall

The Radio Ladies - photo by Stephen Sorokoff
On Sunday, Kevin and I went to the annual Broadway Originals concert at Town Hall.   This was my third time to attend this great show, which offers up a wide variety of styles and genre from the performers who sang them first in Broadway shows over the years.  It's also the opportunity to hear stories, most of which are quite hysterical, from their days on the boards.

As expected, this year's show offered many gems.  I was especially touched by Jeanine Tesori's performance.  The composer of Caroline, or Change,  accompanied the original "Radio Ladies" on "Salty Tears."  The Radio Ladies were Marva Hicks, Vanessa A. Jones, and Ramona Keller.  She dedicated their performance to the late Alice Playten, who played the grandmother in that show.  I was also partial to the performances: Ben Davis and Jesus Garcia sang "Mimi tu piu" from Baz Luhrmann's La Boheme; Andrea Frierson  sang "The Human Heart" from Once On This Island; Marianne Tatum (whom Kevin and I met at the Broadway Flea Market - she understudied Constance Towers and Angela Lansbury in The King and I!) sang from "Love Makes Such Fools of Us All" from Barnum and "L'Amour Toujours-L'Amour" from The Three Muskateers (and shared a really funny story about Glenn Close always looking for her "motivation" in the show);and the youngest female performer to win a Tony,  Daisey Egan who sang "The Girl I Mean to Be" from The Secret Garden.

Also performing were Tony nominee Lorraine Serabian (Zorba!), Sarah Uriate Berry (Taboo), Marianne Tatum (Barnum),Tony winner Yvonne Constant (La Plume de Ma Tante – 1958), Bob Stillman (Grey Gardens), Alexander Gemignani (Le Miz), Marilyn Michaels (Catskill’s on Broadway), and The Manhattan Rhythm Kings (Crazy for You).  Scott Coulter was the director and John Fischer was the musical director.   Marilyn Michaels did almost a 20 minute version of Ella Fitzgerald's "Manhattan" in the voices of everyone from Streisand to Joan Rivers to Judy Garland as well as an abridged Wizard of Oz, complete with the voices of most of the characters.  It was bizarre but pretty fabulous. 

The absolute highlight of the day was the woman who ran away with the whole show: two time Tony Winner Tammy Grimes.   Before she even said a word, the audience was roaring with approval at her entrance, which was aided by a walker.  She said the only exciting new part she's been offered lately was her new knee.   With her remarkable voice that sounds much as it always has, Tammy performed three tunes from the The Unsinkable Molly Brown:  "My Own Brass Bed," "I'll Never Say No," and "I Ain't Down Yet."   As a tribute to her co-star, she sang "I'll Never Say No," which was sung by Harve Presnell in the show.  Mr. Pressnell passed away in 2009.  She said, "I always thought I'd see him one more time."   I was hoping that she'd include something from High Spirits, but hopefully that just means she'll share it at next year's Broadway Originals concert.

Marianne Tatum - photo Stephen Sorokoff


Anonymous said...

Sarah - please please cover this! I am so excited to be seeing playwright Ayad Akhtar's work coming to the stage. I have been following his work for some time and he is such a talent!

Sarah B. Roberts said...

Thanks for the tip, Anon - I will watch for Akhtar's work to come to New York. It sounds very intriguing!