The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Review
Manilow on Broadway

"Here at the St. James, there's no phantom, no spider-men, just hit songs"— kibitzing by Barry Manilow.
Manilow on Broadway
There is no denying there was an awesome outpouring of love, demonstrated on opening night by the prerequisite standing, screaming, and the waving of illuminated lights (distributed by the ushers). Despite his recent bout with bronchitis causing the cancellation of previews and the delay of the official opening night, the seventy year-old crooner, whose songs the whole world has been singing for almost forty years, gave us his all and a helluva show.

He got his first laugh following his "Give My Regards to Broadway" opening saying, "It wasn't the flu part, it was the Jewish guilt part." He, nevertheless, added jokingly a little later into his repertoire, the unnecessary apology, "Here are more songs I'd like to croak for you."

One might easily chalk up Manilow's slightly raspy voice to the way sound is also manufactured these days , call it "tunnel voice" — perhaps a companion accessory to "tunnel vision." But this is coming from ears that also remember the incredibly gifted Manilow from his peak years when his voice was purer and amplified sound not a barrier to the singer's soul.

But first, this is how I became a fan and an admirer. It was near curtain time early in December 1973 and my wife and I just happened to be passing the Palace Theater (believe that!) when a poster grabbed our attention, a sketch of the up-and-coming super star Bette Midler who was beginning a limited but sold-out run in "her concert debut" Bette Midler at the Palace.

While we had yet to become fans, we couldn't resist the lure of the sketch of the gloriously tacky cum divine diva, and pushed our way to the box office to see if there was any chance of getting last-minute seats. Miraculously, we did, and if you know the Palace Theater, we lucked out with the best location, in a lower box just slightly raised above the orchestra level. Sure, Midler was unforgettable "trash with flash" that the audience adored; but also a revelation was Manilow the exuberant and slim young man who was her musical director at the piano down stage left. He used his chance to step out of her shadow and usher in a new phase of his amazing career.

Manilow shares a few disarming stories of growing up in the toughest section of Brooklyn and the love he has for his grandfather ("This One's For You"). However, he never mentions Midler with whom he has had a long off and on-again business and recording relationship. Changing twice from black sharkskin to a hot pink jacket to a white suit, he looked spiffy but not quite as dazzling as he looked in a video of him in a glitter-encrusted white jacket playing piano and singing on a 1975 TV show.

Manilow, who appeared on Broadway at the Gershwin Theater in 1989, received a special Tony Award for his concert appearance in 1977. His return to Broadway after a little more than twenty five years is again honored by the renaming of the corner of 44th Street as Barry Manilow Way. Further down the street is the St. James Theater where this iconic singer-composer-producer is presenting a version of the show he has been performing in such venues as the Las Vegas Hilton and at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.

Among the last of the honest-to-goodness crooners, Manilow, with his spiky, youthful haircut and a lovable face however stretched to near immobility by plastic surgery, still conveys that deliberately home-spun, unassuming, not-quite-polished personality and look that has endeared him to the public over the years. The flashy light-show and the blaring medley by the on-stage band split into two sections behind see-through partitions have more to do with Las Vegas than Broadway.

Apparently the hip surgery he had two years ago is not a major obstacle to the way he moves. He even does a he Conga with the support of his two terrific back-up singers Kye Brackett and Sharon Hendrix. He goes seamlessly through almost two dozen songs some at the keyboard and some at the piano.

The audience truly loved and was, indeed, encouraged to sing along with him such classics as "Can't Smile Without You," "I Write the Songs," and "Copacabana." He instilled a genuine poignancy to such enduring ballads as "Looks Like We Made It," "Somewhere in the Night," "I Made It Through the Rain "and," When October Comes" (lyrics by Johnny Mercer). He also juics up the set with the raucous "Bandstand," and "Brooklyn Blues," "New York City Rhythm," as well as with a tribute to songs from the 1960s ("Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," and "I Love You Baby").

The "I Love You Baby" drove a certain segment of the audience to a near frenzy. There was no stopping many who were previously seated in the orchestra from dancing in the aisles. The big revelation for me, however, was a lovely ballad from his yet-to-be-produced-in-New York musical Harmony. I assume it may have book trouble. But what a revelation it would be to have a new musical on Broadway with real melodies.

As a yet-to-be-surpassed purveyor of melodic songs written from the heart, Barry Manilow undoubtedly means it when he sings to us, "I"ll love you every single day from now on." ("Every Single Day"). That love was sent back by an enraptured audience many of whom could identify with his song "Looks Like We Made It."

Manilow on Broadway
Music Director: Ron Walters, Jr.

Cast: Barry Manilow, Kye Brackett, Sharon Hendrix, Joey Melotti (keyboards), Ron Pedley (keyboards), Michael Lent (Guitar), Russ McKinnon (Drums), David Rozenblatt (Percussion), Stan Sargeant (Bass)
Production Designer: Seth Jackson
Sound Designer: Ken Newman
Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes no intermission
St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St.
Tickets $50 – $350.00
Performances: Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday at 7 PM, Thursday at 8 PM, Friday at 8 PM, and Saturday at 8 PM.
From 01/18/13 Opened 01/29/13 Ends 03/02/13
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 01/29/12
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Manilow on Broadway 
  • I disagree with the review of Manilow on Broadway
  • The review made me eager to see Manilow on Broadway
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

Visit Curtainup's Blog Annex
For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter
Subscribe to our FREE email updates: E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message. If you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows- view 1st episode free

Anything Goes Cast Recording Anything Goes Cast Recording
Our review of the show

Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

©Copyright 2013, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from