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A CurtainUp Review
Summer Broadway Festival

Created for The Town Hall by writer/director/host Scott Siegel, the star-studded Fifth Annual Summer Broadway Festival of features three special musical shows on consecutive Monday nights. Subscription and individual tickets are available at The Town Hall Box Office from noon to 6pm except Sun.and or by phone 212.307.4100. .

Here are links to the three shows in the line-up. With an asterisk * before each show as we post the review:
Broadway Winners: The Award-Winning Music of Broadway July 11th * | Broadway's Rising Stars - July 18th * | All Singin' All Dancin' - July 25*. |

Summer Broadway Festival: Broadway's Rising Stars

Broadway's Rising Stars

Pursuing what Scott Siegel called their "mad and wonderful dream," 19 young stars rose and shone at The Town Hall’s Fifth Summer Broadway Festival. It was a mad and wonderful evening for parents, teachers and friends as well, as they were saluted by Siegel for supporting their children’s dreams.

Creator Siegel and director Scott Coulter selected a world-wide and national cast of well-trained performers. From South Korea, Esther Kong was particularly engaging with, "Part of Your World," connecting affably with the audience. Until this event, she had never met her fellow South Korean, Gyu Jin Lim, who sang a rousing "I’d Give My Life for You." Australia’s Philippa Lynas showed lovely stage presence in her rendition of "On My Own". Housso Semon from the embattled Ivory Coast was especially moving with her questioning song from Hair, "Easy to be Hard," singing for her mother in the audience. Kiarri D. Andrews, in a tribute to his late mother, inhabited the heart and soul of, "If I Sing " from Closer Than Ever

Some performers had show biz in their blood. Petite Morgan Billings Smith was a giant bundle of fire singing and hoofing to "The Trolley Song." Her grandmother and parents taught her well but the pizzazz was all her own. Also from a musical family, Jason Gotay gave a sensitive rendition of, "Out There" and Mary Lane Haskell was as ebullient as her song, "I Had a Ball." Alex Goley related his mother’s good country sense with the comical, "Mama Says" and since his mama was in the audience, he asked if she had any extra advice. "Encore," she called out. He listened to mama. It was a crowd-pleasing number.

Two young men chose songs from Ragtime, Kyle Scatliff delivering a dramatic "Make Them Hear You." "Wheels of a Dream" was sung compellingly by Paul Pontrelli. Graham Bailey from West Virginia interpreted Sondheim’s "Finishing the Hat" with understanding. Amanda Savan also chose a Sondheim song, belting out, "Being Alive." Kevin Mueller got the band and audience snapping their fingers to his resonant delivery of, "16 Tons."

Anthony Ramos Martinez brimmed with youthful self-confidence interpreting, "Nothing" ( A Chorus Line ). Tristan Morris led some of the men in an exuberant, "Into the Fire," closing Act One. Courtney Simmons led the ensemble to open Act Two with, "Nobody’s Side" and, move over, Barbra, Blair Goldberg’s in town with her lusty belt in "Don’t Rain on My Parade."

The show opened with one of theater’s most thrilling ensemble numbers, "One" from A Chorus Line, with witty choreography by Vibecke Dahl. The ensemble ended the evening with "The Impossible Dream."

Scott Siegel offered succinct looks at each performer’s background and once again, Scott Coulter’s direction wove together a flowing mix of music. Vibecke Dahl designed clever dance movements and returning musical director was John Fischer. It was one singular sensational experience for each of these young performers, their families, and the audience.

Act One
One (A Chorus Line)–Company
On My Own (Les Miserables)–Philippa Lynas
Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid)–Esther Kong
Finishing the Hat (Sunday in the Park With George)–-Graham Bailey
You’ll Never Walk Alone (Carousel)–Jeanette Minson
The Trolley Song (Meet Me in St. Louis)–Morgan Billings Smith
16 Tons (Million Dollar Quartet)–Kevin Mueller
Into the Fire (The Scarlet Pimpernel)–Tristan Morris and the Men
Being Alive (Company)–Amanda Savan
Make Them Hear You (Ragtime)–Kyle Scatliffe
C’Mon Everybody (All Shook Up)–Tristan Morris, Graham Bailey, Kevin Mueller and Company

Act Two
Nobody’s Side (Chess)–Courtney Simmons and Ensemble
Easy to be Hard (Hair)–Housso Semon
Out There (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)–-Jason Gotay
I Had a Ball (I Had a Ball)–Mary Lane Haskell
Nothing (A Chorus Line)–Anthony Ramos Martinez
Don’t Rain on My Parade (Funny Girl)–-Blair Goldberg
Mama Says (Footloose)–Alex Goley
I’d Give My Life for You (Miss Saigon)–Gyu Jin Lim
Wheels of a Dream (Ragtime)–Paul Pontrelli
If I Sing (Closer Than Ever)–Kiarri D. Andrews
The Impossible Dream (Man of La Mancha)–Paul Pontrelli, Courtney Simmons, Jason Gotay, Mary Lane Haskell, Blair Goldberg, Kyle Scatliffe, Ensemble

Broadway Winners! The Award-Winning Music of Broadway

For opening night of The Town Hall's Fifth Annual Summer Broadway Festival, creator/writer/host, Scott Siegel, chose some outstanding rising stars from previous years to share the stage with veterans like Tom Wopat, Marc Kudisch and Christina Bianco. Curly-haired Oakley Boycott was more than ready for the challenge. Striding onstage in a gold and black sequined gown and a fur boa, she milked "He Vas My Boyfriend" (Young Frankenstein ) for every drop of Mel Brooks broad humor. A show-stopping moment, and it was not the only one. Marc Kudisch, a familiar face on The Town Hall and Broadway stages, performed his crowd-pleasing "If I Were a Rich Man."

Christina Bianco, a small package with a big belt and an equally big gift for mimicry, elicited visions of other performers and how they might sing "Cabaret," including Liza Minnelli, star of the iconic Academy Award-winning film version. Carefully clearing strands of hair from her face, "Streisand" delivered her over-the-top vocal theatricality. Bianco remembered spunky "Bernadette Peters," some vibrato notes by "Judy Garland," a few undistinguishable lyrics by "Patti LuPone" and "Julie Andrews's" pristine ladylike tones. "Celine Dion" was the topping on this musical cake.

Eddie Korbich rendered an up-to-date interpretation to Fiorello's "I Love a Cop," drawing laughs with his added line, "We live in New York State. I can marry him!" Young Joshua Isaacs was convincing with "Finishing the Hat" and Jon Fetcher sang "Why, God, Why" from an award-winning show, Miss Saigon, that critics did not love though it scored with audiences. Other newcomers included Dara Hartman ("My Funny Valentine") and Stephanie Umoh ("Easy as Life.")

Scott Coulter with his sweet, clear tenor voice, eschewed the usual ebullience of "The Sound of Music" rendering a lovely tender spirituality. He later joined Bianco in the countermelodies of "You're Just in Love." Singing unplugged were Kristin Dausch with "The Music That Makes Me Dance," Korbich with a simmering "So In Love" and Tom Wopat, who battled memory moments with "The Best is Yet to Come." Wopat, however, is a pro and he showed that trademark cool that makes him such a popular performer. A surprise guest was Larry Gatlin who delivered "Bring Him Home" after quipping that Alexander Gemignani would do a better job. Can't deny that, although Gatlin did fine, even with a problematic guitar.

Alexander Gemignani opened the program with an engaging, "She Loves Me," He was also the show's director and kept an even flow of rising stars among the proven professionals. Beth Ertz was music director and pianist.

The Summer Broadway Festival again proves to be one of New York's most popular summer respites with Scott Siegel and The Town Hall offering the best of the best in theater tunes.


Act One
She Loves Me (She Loves Me) Alexander Gemignani
The Sound of Music (The Sound of Music) Scott Coulter
My Funny Valentine (Babes in Arms) Dana Hartman
A Lovely Day to Be Out of Jail (Aida) Stephanie Umpo
Finishing the Hat (Sunday in the Park with George) Joshua Isaacs
I Love a Cop (Fiorello) Eddie Korbich
Send in the Clowns (A Little Night Music) Tom Wopat (unplugged)
The Music That Makes Me Dance (Funny Girl) Kristin Dausch (unplugged)
Why, God, Why? (Miss Saigon)-Jon Fetcher
He Vas My Boyfriend (Young Frankenstein ) Oakley Boycott
Look Around (Will Rogers Follies) Larry Gatlin
The Best is Yet to Come (by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh) Tom Wopat

Act Two
Bless Your Beautiful Hide (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers -Marc Kudisch
Not While I'm Around (Sweeney Todd) Alexander Gemignani
You're Just in Love (Call Me Madam) Scott Coulter and Christina Bianco
Easy as Life (Aida) Stephanie Umpo
Those You've Known (Spring Awakening) Joshua Isaacs, Dara Hartman, Jon Fletcher
Bring Him Home (Les Miserables) Larry Gatlin
So in Love (Kiss Me Kate) Eddie Korbich
Cabaret (Cabaret) Christina Bianco
If I Were a Rich Man (Fiddler on the Roof) Marc Kudisch
Tomorrow (Annie) Scott Coulter and Company

All Singin' - All Dancin'

Choreographers Lorin Latarro and Mark Stuart and their dance companies joined some charismatic vocalists for this final evening of Scott Siegel and The Town Hall’s fifth  Summer Broadway Festival . Breathtaking acrobatic flings, rhythmic taps, sliding soft-shoes, soaring leaps, accompanied by polished singing, proved again that this show is the high point of the summer series.

The showstopper came early. Julia Murney sang "My Baby Just Cares for Me" with three lithe Lorin Latarro dancers. As they repeated the chorus, three cute tots ran on the stage straight to their dancing mommies who scooped them up, swung them around, tossed them and hugged them, never missing a beat. It was a priceless, crowd-pleasing moment and one little girl even agreed to take a bow.

Obviously, this would only be a dancing show, so tenor Ron Bohmer opened with a stately version of that classic tune, "Without A Song," elegantly accompanied only by Ross Patterson on piano. Patterson and his Little Big Band were sequestered behind a curtain, giving the dancers the room they would need. Band and dancers swung into action when Darius deHaas strolled on for "Satin Doll" and "I Got Rhythm" with the Mark Stuart ensemble.

Several songs were sung without dancing accompaniment. Carole J. Bufford recalled Rizzo in Grease with "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" and later belted, "What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?" Darius deHaas delivered "I Have Dreamed" with gorgeous intensity. Carolee Carmello was moving in her rendition of, "As Long as He Needs Me" and evoked a sassy Gal Friday singing, "You Can Always Count on Me". Lillias White scored with "Ain’t Got No/I Got Life" from Hair and Valarie Pettiford always sizzles, whether she is a dangerous "Mein Herr" or raising the "Fever" of the Mark Stuart dancers.

Performing "Libertango," Mark Stuart and Jaime Verazin demonstrated some sensuous attitude with flashing whirls and twisting lifts not often seen on Dancing With the Stars.

"Sisters," Kearran Giovanni, Sarrah Strimel, Sarah O’Gleby, Samantha Zak, were delightfully comic when some "Misters" showed up to tempt them in this song-and-dance number from White Christmas . The stage filled with the ensembles for "Le Jazz Hot, Blue Suede Shoes," and "Will I".

Unfortunately, Nick Adams ( Priscilla, Queen of the Desert ) was recently injured and could not perform, but stepping in were Eddie Korbich (The Drowsy Chaperone ) and Ron Bohmer ( Ragtime ). Kudos for their saving the day with one day’s notice to perform, "We’ll Take a Glass Together" with the company. Now that’s show business.


Act One Without A Song (Great Day)–Ron Bohmer
Satin Doll/I Got Rhythm (Dream/Girl Crazy)–Darius deHaas with the Mark Stuart dancers
My Baby Just Cares for Me (Whoopee!)–Julia Murney with Ashley Amber, Mayumi Miguel, Callie Carter and…
There Are Worse Things I Could Do (Grease)—Carole J. Bufford
Little Me (Little Me)–Cameron Adams and David Hull
Mein Herr (Cabaret)–Valarie Pettiford
Trouble (Smokey Joe’s Café)–Kearran Giovanni, Grasan Kingsberry, Samantha Zak, MichaelJon Slinger
Ain’t Got No/I Got Life (Hair)—Lillias White
Sisters (White Christmas)—Kearran Giovanni, Sarrah Strimel, Sarah O’Gleby, Samantha Zak and Lorin Latarro dancers
Someone Else’s Story (Chess)–Carolee Carmello
Libertango (Tango Argentino)—Mark Stuart and Jaime Verazin
We’ll Take a Glass Together (Grand Hotel)—Eddie Korbich, Ron Bohmer and Lorin Latarro Company.

Act Two
Le Jazz Hot (Victor/Victoria)–Julia Murney with Adam Perry, Kevin Munhall, Grasan Kingsberry, David Hull, MichaelJon Slinger, Anthony Wayne
You Can Always Count on Me (City of Angels)–Carolee Carmello
I Walk a Little Faster (Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh)–Lillias White with Lorin Latarro, Todd Burnsed
Fever (Million Dollar Quartet)—Valarie Pettiford with Mark Stuart, Jaime Verazin, Michele Camaya, Sarah O’Gleby, April Berry
I Have Dreamed (The King and I)–Darius deHaas
Unexpressed (John Bucchino)–David Larsen and Jennifer Savelli
What Did I Have That I Don’t Have (On A Clear Day…)–Carole J. Bufford Slinger
Real Live Girl (Little Me)— Eddie Korbich with Cameron Adams, Sarah O’Gleby, Sarrah Strimel, Samantha Zak, Jennifer Savelli
Blue Suede Shoes (All Shook Up)—Josh Franklin, Marcos Santana, Adam Perry, Grady Bowman, Rickey Tripp, April Perry, Jaime Verazin, Sarah O’Gleby, Michele Camaya
As Long As He Needs Me (Oliver!)–Carolee Carmello
Will I (Rent)—Anthony Wayne, Darius deHaas, Valarie Pettiford, Josh Franklin, and Mark Stuart dancers
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Our review of the show

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