Jack Quinn

Victor Gluck

Chip Deffaa

The Concert - A Celebration of Contemporary Musical Theatre
By: Joel Benjamin
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Host Seth Rudetsky All photos by Maryann Lopinto

For all those Cassandras still doubting that the American Musical Theatre has a robust future, The Concert – A Celebration of Contemporary Musical Theatre firmly put their doubts to rest. The stage at the Second Stage Theatre held so many brilliantly talented singers performing the creative output of so many brilliantly talented songwriters that the only reaction could only be one of giddy celebration. This was an advertisement, of sorts, for the new Directory of Contemporary Musical Theatre Writers, a much needed resource that matches singers, writers, teachers, coaches and producers with a treasure trove of new material.

Kenita R. Miller

Brilliantly MC’d by the quicksilver-tongued Seth Rudetsky, who can deliver ten quips a second, the show moved briskly and wittily from one fine song to the next. The songs ranged from the bittersweet to the hilarious, beginning with a road song, “Blue Horizon” (Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond) sung with wide-eyed enthusiasm by Elizabeth Stanley.

John Bucchino

Very much of the bittersweet variety were “It Just Wasn’t Meant to Happen” (Barry Wyner) movingly sung by Nick Blaemire; “Hold My Hand,” a heart on the sleeve number about yearning for simple affection, written and performed by Jeff Blumenkrantz; “I Don’t Think of You (It’s All Good)” (Daniel MatÚ) about running into a former lover, sung with a gorgeous intensity by Kenita R. Miller; and John Bucchino’s little masterpiece “Unexpressed,” about all the wonderful things in life—lovers, friends, our dreams—we unfortunately keep pent up inside. Lucas Steele’s youthful interpretation, accompanied by Mr. Bucchino, was passionate.

Lucas Steel

Humor was in great supply. “I’m Just Glad” (David Gaines and Charlie Sohne) detailed all the stupid bad habits of an otherwise perfect new lover. Robin de Jes˙s’ timing was impeccable. “Mediocre Man” (Rachel Peters), a kind of “(Just My) Bill” for the 21st century, put the kibosh on expecting too much from a man and Mary Testa was a hoot and a half. Sam Willmott’s “I’m Sitting Next to Estella,” a twisted combination of infatuation and cheating on a test, was sung by Tam Tedaldi who was unfazed by its rapid-fire wordplay. In “Please, Belize,” a scene from a Tony Kushner play skillfully set to music by Nadav Wiesel, Harry Bouvy caught all the angst of the character’s guilt feelings.

Mary Testa

Two songs stood out for their full-bodied ardor: “Without Your Love,” an out-and-out love song by Michael Wartofsky was fully inhabited by the rich-voiced Darius de Haas and, in the finale of the program, “Rock City,” by Brad Alexander and Adam Mathias, an anthem to a tourist site that becomes a metaphor for life’s destinations, Bryce Ryness was powerful and ardent.

Robin de Jes˙s

The stylishly terrific band, led by pianist/conductor Matt Castle included Giuseppe Fusco (reeds), Joe Brent (violin), Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf (cello), John Convertino (bass) and Michael Blancafor (drums). The range of timbres and colors that these musicians produced was awesome.

Darius De Haas

If this performance was any indication, the Directory of Contemporary Musical Theatre Writers will be a useful resource and will keep American musical theatre alive and kicking for decades to come. David Sisco, the curator and Lorene Phillips, the project assistant, have much to be proud of.

Curator David Sisco and Project Assistant Lorene Phillips of the
Directory of Contemporary Musical Theatre Writers

The Concert - A Celebration of Contemporary Musical Theatre (January 21st, 2013)
Second Stage Theatre, 305 West 43rd Street, between. 8th & 9th Avenues, in Manhattan
Tickets: call 212-246-4422 or visit http://www.2st.com
For More Information: http://www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com

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