Jack Quinn

Victor Gluck

Chip Deffaa

Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1937
By: Joel Benjamin
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Stephen DeRosa and Company in Harold Rome’s “Sing Me a Song
With Social Significance” from Pins and Needles
(All photos by Maryann Lopinto)

Scott Siegel, that dynamo of Town Hall, has pulled another rabbit out of his miraculous hat, presenting a further installment of Broadway by the Year – The Broadway Musicals of 1937, a year of upheaval in the world, but richness on Broadway. It was a year when Rodgers and Hart, Harold Rome, Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg, Dietz and Schwartz, and even the Strausses of Old Vienna were represented.

As usual, Siegel gathered first rate talent. Stephen DeRosa opened the show with “Way Out West” from Babes In Arms (Rodgers and Hart) about a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker’s aversion to any place outside of Manhattan. He was a hoot, but also later revealed how extraordinarily tender he could be in a quiet rendition of “I See Your Face Before Me” (Between the Devil from Dietz and Schwartz).

Brian d’Arcy James sings Rodgers and Hart’s “Have You Met Miss
Jones?” from I’d Rather Be Right

In fact, each and every performer proved to be multi-faceted. Brian d’Arcy James, now world famous from TV’s Smash, not only was a smooth balladeer in “Have You Met Miss Jones?” (I’d Rather Be Right – Rodgers and Hart) and “Where or When” (from Rodgers and Hart’s Babes in Arms) with Elizabeth Stanley but displayed a sophisticated wit in “I Wish I Were in Love Again” (the very busy Rodgers and Hart) with Tonya Pinkins who also revealed her comic chops in a disarming “The Lady is a Tramp” (again from Babes in Arms) and sang a bluesy “Moanin’ in the Morning’” (Hooray for What – Arlen/Harburg) and a heartbreakingly romantic “My Funny Valentine” (Rodgers and Hart).

Carole J. Bufford, Elizabeth Stanley and Tonya Pinkins sing “Nobody
Makes a Pass at Me” from Pins and Needles

Carole J. Bufford, a real “find” of Mr. Siegel’s, continued to amaze with the range of her talents beginning with “Buds Won’t Bud” (Arlen/Harburg) a comic take on the frustrations of being loverless. Her “Why Did I Do It?,” a bluesy and sad oddity by Dietz and Schwartz contrasted with Harold Rome’s Pins & Needles ditty “Nobody Makes a Pass at Me” which lists dozens of hygiene and food products that supposedly—in 1937, at least—made women desirable. In this last, she was joined by Ms. Pinkins and Elizabeth Stanley, a tall, lovely creature who was operatic in “To Love Is to Live” (Three Waltzes – the Strausses) and an American Songbook diva in the immortal “Johnny One-Note” (Rodgers and Hart) with which she ended the evening by tearing down the house. Kevin Earley, used his sumptuous baritone on “Down With Love” (Arlen/Harburg) and the operatic “To Love is to Live” with Ms. Stanley.

Danny Gardner as he performed “Touched in the Head” from
Cleary and Swanstrom’s Sea Legs in a straitjacket

Danny Gardner was another find, a singing, dancing wonder. He conjured Ray Bolger at his eccentric best in “Touched in the Head” (Sea Legs – Michael H. Cleary/Arthur Swanstrom) performed in a straitjacket! Gardner’s choreographic brilliance also shone in “Doing the Reactionary” (Rome), where he was joined by two other fine tapper/singers, Brent McBeth and Derek Roland. They filled the stage with their antics and brought the audience to its feet with the sheer delight they communicated.

Kevin Earley as he sang “Why Did You Kiss My Heart Awake?”
unplugged from Franz Lehar’s Frederika

It should be noted that a few artists performed “unplugged,” without benefit of a microphone.

Ross Patterson and his Little Big Band were the musical backbone of the evening, producing a rich range of timbres and moods with minimal resources.

Ross Patterson as he accompanied Tonya Pinkins in Rodgers and
Hart’s “My Funny Valentine” from Babes in Arms

Broadway by the Year presents The Broadway Musicals of 1937 (February 11th, 2013)
The Town Hall, 123 West 43rd Street, between 6th & 7th Avenues, in Manhattan
Tickets for Future Events: 800-982-2787 or http://www.Ticketmaster.com
More Information: http://www.siegelpresents.com

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