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Irving Berlin

ON THE TOWN WITH CHIP DEFFAA… for Aug 3rd, 2018

August 4, 2018

Thanks to the Internet, word tends to get around very quickly about what is being done in theatres everywhere-even in college theatres. Cohen told me, for example, that students at Towson University mounted a production of "Rent" with an unauthorized changed ending; in their revision of "Rent," the character of "Mimi" died at the end. Cohen reflected: "Theatre is sort of self-monitoring. Fans of musical theatre are so passionate that when they see that a show has been changed, they'll quickly say that something is not right here. They may comment in online blogs or on chat boards." And thus, the unauthorized changes to "Rent" very quickly came to the attention of MTI, which licenses "Rent." Cohen added that the director of the Towson University production of "Rent" seemed to imagine she had the right to change the ending of the show-but to him that simply indicated her naivete or ignorance of the law. [more]

92Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: “Irving Berlin: American”

March 30, 2018

This biographical survey concert fused together several strands. There were the zesty performances by Danny Gardner, Emily Hsu, Holly Butler, Richard Riaz Yoder, Jada Temple and Bryonha Marie. There was also the narrative device of having Irving Berlin appear as a commentator. This was achieved by the marvelous performance of Stephen DeRosa who channeled Berlin’s presence with his rat-a-tat show business cadences and comic timing. Mr. DeRosa also conveyed Berlin’s melancholy and sang and danced through the presentation with joyous flair. His “This is A Great Country” was quite stirring and his “Cohen Owes Me Ninety-Seven Dollars” was priceless. [more]

ON THE TOWN… with CHIP DEFFAA, February 3, 2018

February 6, 2018

If you’re in the mood for a night of laughter, “The Outsider”—a new comedy by Paul Slade Smith, receiving its East Coast premiere in January and February at the Paper Mill Playhouse--is great good fun.  Oh, I’m not claiming it’s profound or a show that you’ll never forget, like “A Chorus Line.”  If “A Chorus Line” is like a fine roast-beef dinner, “The Outsider” is more like a hot dog with all the trimmings.  But sometimes a hot dog with all the trimmings just hits the spot. [more]

A 2017 10 Best List

December 20, 2017

Darryl Reilly, Critic Looking back at the 128 performance reviews I wrote for Theaterscene.net in [more]

ON THE TOWN…. with CHIP DEFFAA , November 8, 2017

November 11, 2017

Memo to Broadway producers: You need to do everything you can to hook the next generation while they're young. I got hooked on theater because I saw the greatest performers, the greatest shows, from when I was very young. It would be very hard for a young person of today to see as much great theater as I did, growing up. When they read about some tickets going for a thousand bucks apiece, they might well conclude that theater isn't meant to be for them, but mostly for rich older folk. I have some friends who work in the theater who say they can't afford to take their families to shows. And that worries me. [more]

Spotlight Cabaret: Ella At 100

May 29, 2017

It's Ella Fitgerald's centennial. She influenced more than a generation of singers and musicians. The lady called the “Queen of Jazz” or “The First Lady of Song” would have turned 100 this year. Her bounty is unmatched. Among her musical gifts, Ella was an exceptionally well-rounded musician, a pristine vocalist and impeccable improviser. She was jazz. There have been many first ladies of this or that but Ella was an original, clarion-voiced swing singer in a league of her own. [more]

Louisiana Purchase

March 4, 2017

Based on a story by lyricist/bookwriter/producer B.G. DeSylva (“Good News,” “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” “The Varsity Drag”), this musical satire sends unworldly, teetotaler Oliver P. Loganberry, “the Watchdog of the Senate,” to New Orleans to investigate the corrupt dealings of the Louisiana Purchasing Company run by Jimmy Taylor, Colonel Davis, Junior Davis, Dean Manning of the university, and Captain Whitfield of the city government. Jimmy, the president of the company, who was out of town when the others used his powers of attorney for their illegal scheme, is left to sort out the mess. [more]

Life is for Living: Conversations with Coward

December 24, 2016

Green’s dry delivery is in the Coward manner, crisp, almost spoken to the music, with impeccable diction. Shrubsole’s accompaniment supports him without ever getting in the way. The most famous song is probably “I Went to a Marvelous Party,” and there are five songs from Coward’s last all-original Broadway musical "Sail Away." However, there are also unfamiliar songs from "After the Ball" (“Something on a Tray”) and" Pacific 1860" (“I Saw No Shadow”), London shows that never made it to Broadway. In addition is “London Pride,” recently heard in the rediscovered post-war musical, "Hoi Polloi." Stand-alone songs include the poignant “There’s No More to Say about Love” and “I Travel Alone.” [more]

92Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: Everything’s Coming Up Ethel: The Ethel Merman Songbook

April 20, 2016

“Our goal is not to impersonate her but to channel her,” said Mr. Sperling, the artistic director, writer and director of this entertaining event. In addition to these tasks, he also sang, played piano and as the genial host effortlessly delivered his authoritative biographical statements. A fan of Merman’s since childhood, Sperling’s conception and execution of this show was a very well done labor of love. His patter skillfully documented her renowned charisma, saltiness and, most importantly, her unique vocal abilities. [more]

ON THE TOWN … with CHIP DEFFAA (Dec. 21, 2015)

December 23, 2015

It did my heart good to see Matanya Solomon dancing all-out after being pretty much sidelined as a "Nutcracker" dancer, due to injury, for the last two years. I greatly admire all good dancers for their dedication and hard work; but to not give up after being hampered for so long is extra admirable.  And he was fun as the Grandfather, making the most of the part (and interacting well with others) in the prologue (staged by Victoria Mazzarelli and Tim Melady). [more]

92 Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: “All Dancing! All Singing! Irving Berlin in Hollywood”

May 5, 2015

Sandy Duncan and Don Correia, wearing shabby tuxedos, top hats, and Converse high top sneakers, beautifully dancing and singing, “A Couple of Swells,” was one of the many highlights of the 92 Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series’ "All Dancing! All Singing! Irving Berlin in Hollywood." Ms. Duncan and her husband Mr. Correia vibrantly demonstrated why they have had such enduring careers in show business, which have included a number of appearances on Broadway. Guest starring here, they effortlessly recreated that famous number from MGM’s 1948"Easter Parade," originally performed by Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, who replaced the injured Gene Kelly. The tune itself dated from 1917, when it had the unpopular title and lyrics, “Smile, and Show Your Dimple.” [more]

Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1916-1940

February 28, 2015

Director Mindy Cooper’s very well executed transitions between the show’s 27 numbers, the personable Scott Siegel’s erudite remarks, and the variety of gifted performers who participated made "Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1916-1940" a brisk and very enjoyable event. [more]

RIP, JOE FRANKLIN (March 9, 1926-January 24, 2015)

January 25, 2015

Joe helped me in countless ways over the years–more than I could detail here--and I dedicated one of the books I wrote to him. He's been a good force in my life since I was very young. I’ll miss you, Joe. I can’t imagine walking through the heart of Manhattan without stopping off to see your office at 300 West 43rd Street. [more]

Richard Holbrook: The Untapped Fred Astaire Revisited

October 24, 2014

The debonair Holbrook sang his way down memory lane with his enchanting voice and interesting stories about Astaire that he shared in-between songs, many showing a side to the man that is relatively unknown. This is one of the aspects of the show that makes it intriguing and a must-see for those who appreciate the talents of this widely respected artist.  

Most remember Fred Astaire for his singing and dancing, and for his movie roles, but there was much more to the man. [more]