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New Year’s Eve at Feinstein’s/54 Below

December 28th, 2016 Comments off

54 Below

Are you looking for last-minute New Year’s Eve entertainment? Celebrate the arrival of 2017 at Feinstein’s/54 Below as two stars return to usher in the new year! Two-time MAC Award winner, Tony nominee, and drag legend Charles Busch will bring laughs and glamour to the 7 p.m. show. After a sold out New Year’s Eve show last year, Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford, once again accompanied by Will Van Dyke and the Whiskey 5,will conjure New Year’s Magic! at11p.m. A dance party to celebrate the New Year will follow the performance.

Charles Busch brings to Feinstein’s/54 Below an eclectic program of songs both contemporary and from the past. New York Times critic Stephen Holden wrote, “He has the gift of comic gab like few other entertainers. Innately funny, endearing and acutely intelligent, he also has claws. For an audience, the possibility of being scratched, although remote, lends his humor a bracing edge.” Accompanied by his dashing longtime musical director Tom Judson, Busch combines hilarious personal reminiscence, character sketches and superb storytelling through song into one glittering and glamorous evening in cabaret.

Come ring in 2017 with an eclectic mix of songs, stories, some sort-of impressive magic tricks, and an appearance made by a rainbow. Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford (Sylvia, You Can’t Take It With You, Kinky Boots, Showtime’s Masters of Sex) and music director Will Van Dyke reprise some of their Lost In The Stars favorites as well as debut some new tunes to celebrate this past year. Get your midnight kiss in one of the swankiest rooms in New York during a night that’s sure to be one of laughter, love, looking back, and looking forward.

Cover charges for the 7pm show range from $75-$140 with a $45 food and beverage minimum. Cover charges for the 11pm show range from $325-$495 which includes a two-course prix fixe dinner, dessert buffet, open bar, tax, and gratuity. Premium and Ringside seats include a half bottle of Laurent Perrier Brut Champagne for each party of two and an individual dessert platter during the dance party.

www.54below.com

 

54 Below Welcomes Michael Feinstein’s Return to NYC

September 3rd, 2015 Comments off
Michael Feinstein (photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com)

Michael Feinstein (photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com)

In case you thought New York City’s cabaret scene was shriveling like grapes at harvest time, think again. 54 Below has been resilient in its efforts to celebrate the American songbook since the venue’s 2012’s opening, and the latest reports indicate a major upswing with the return of Michael Feinstein.

The New York Times reported yesterday that the cabaret space will be renamed “Feinstein’s/54 Below” and the performer will return for a special holiday engagement from December 20-30, followed by bi-annual appearances thereafter.

Feinstein has been without a NYC home since Feinstein’s at Loews Regency Hotel closed at the end of 2012. The partnership will benefit both parties. “Being the foremost interpreter of the American Songbook, Michael would help us fill our repertoire and bring us his reputation and contacts,” says 54 Below co-producer Richard Frankel. “He is a beloved performer with his own following.”

Judy’s 93rd Birthday with Seth Sikes

June 1st, 2015 Comments off
Seth Sikes (photo:  Kevin Thomas Garcia via The Broadway Blog.)

Seth Sikes (photo: Kevin Thomas Garcia via The Broadway Blog.)

To celebrate Judy Garland’s 93rd birthday Seth Sikes will return to 54 BELOW, Broadway’s Supper Club, on Wednesday, June 10, to perform his critically-acclaimed show Seth Sikes Sings Judy Garland, an evening of Garland’s most popular songs. Sikes returns to 54 Below after three previous sold-out appearances. And the critics are raving…

Liz Smith — “I told you recently about a young man, Seth Sikes, who has appeared at the NYC nightspot 54 Below, singing the songs of Judy Garland. I went off to see him last week and couldn’t have been more charmed. He’s young and handsome and enthusiastic. He doesn’t try to duplicate her sound. Sikes has boundless energy and a true, strong voice, with just the right amount of throb and drive and melancholy. The place was packed.”

BistroAwards.com — “Sikes’s voice is hardy, and he can belt out key musical phrases with impressive vivacity.”

Center on the Aisle — “In a packed room under colorful lights Sikes presented a fun,emotional night of songs. He sings with the energy and enthusiasm of the ultimate Judy fan, his excitement spilling through every note.”

Best known in the theater as an Assistant Director (The NanceTribesPageant), Sikes will perform with a seven-piece band to recount how Garland captivated him as a young boy in Paris, Texas, and to sing some of Garland’s greatest hits.

The evening was conceived by Seth Sikes and Tony-Award winning Lyricist Lisa Lambert, and will feature Music Direction by Gary Adler and orchestrations by Matt Aument.The evening is directed by Eric Gilliland.

Seth Sikes Sings Judy Garland
54 BELOW
254 West 54th Street
June 10, 9:30 p.m.

 

Don’t Miss: Euan Morton’s “I ❤ the Carpenters” at 54 Below

March 11th, 2015 Comments off
Euan Morton (photo provided by Coyle Entertainment).

Euan Morton (photo provided by Coyle Entertainment).

Following a sold-out 2013 debut at 54 Below, Tony Award nominee Euan Morton returns to the acclaimed Manhattan nightspot to launch his newest project, I ❤ THE CARPENTERS. Backed by the Downey CA Collective, Morton will perform songs made famous by the all-American jazz/pop duo Richard and Karen Carpenter. With songs from composers such as Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Paul Williams, Roger Nichols, Leon Russell, John Bettis and Richard Carpenter himself, I ❤ THE CARPENTERS is fresh take on mid-20th century American pop genius, designed to be an emotional trip down memory lane for some and an exciting, memory-making first meeting for others.

“My youth was scored with the music of the world-famous, brother and sister duo the Carpenters. With my ear pressed to a speaker, I’d listen to the velvet beauty of Karen’s voice coupled with the genius of Richard’s arrangements and compositions. That lonely boy discovered a kindred spirit and learned how to sing through that music,” says Morton. “This series of concerts at 54 Below is the realization of a long-time dream of performing an evening of Carpenters songs. It’s a project that aims to introduce this timeless music into our lives using a fresh, modern outlook, which will prove that Richard and Karen’s musical legacy is as important and vibrant today as it was nearly 50 years ago. It couldn’t be closer to my heart.”

ILovetheCarpentersEuan Morton, a native of Scotland, received an Olivier Award nomination for originating the role of Boy George in the musical Taboo. He moved to New York in 2003 to reprise the role on Broadway, earning Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Award nominations, as well as the Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut. His other New York stage appearances include Sondheim on Sondheim and the 2007 revival of Cyrano De Bergerac on Broadway; as well as the Off Broadway productions of Measure For Pleasure at The Public Theater (2006 Obie Award), Tony Kushner’s adaptation of Brundibár at the New Victory Theatre, Howard Katz (opposite Alfred Molina) at the Roundabout Theatre, the 2009 American premiere of Leaves of Glass, the Keen Company’s revival of The Film Society, and the musical Atomic.

I ❤ THE CARPENTERS
June 1, 7 p.m.
June 8, 9:30 p.m.
June 15, 7 p.m.

Categories: Show Folk, The Buzz Tags: ,

Jarrod Spector: A Little Help From My Friends

April 4th, 2014 Comments off

Contributor Scott Redman goes on a trip down memory lane with a little help from Broadway star Jarrod Spector.

jarrodJarrod Spector, fresh from his knockout performance as Barry Mann in the Broadway show, Beautiful, bursts onto the cabaret scene with the CD release of his solo act, “A Little Help From My Friends.” Due to popular demand, Studio 54 has added an encore performance on April 9, featuring special guest Barry Mann himself.

Spector’s spin on the evening is a blast-from-the-past crash course in the evolution of music styles focusing on the trajectory of rock and roll.  He pulls from a vast pool of  music icons including Paul McCartney, Little Richard, Freddie Mercury, Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel.

Jarrod Spector and Anika Larsen in "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.

Jarrod Spector and Anika Larsen in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.

The swooner has the voice of a velvet jet, it is clear, textured and seductive. Spector’s rendition of “Sweet Home Chicago” is a great example of the artist’s vulnerable rock sensibility. He lures the listener with soft but deliberate vibrato. He continues to seduce with the crowd favorite, “Unchained Melody”, giving the song life and depth. The other side of Spector’s voice showcases a high-octange rocket ship energy. “Good Golly Miss Molly” has him riffing to the rafters.

Spector’s voice—one that echoes the past yet is distinctly its own—is like a vintage suit that has been tailored for the modern world. His greatest asset is his falsetto rock tenor timbre. “Don’t You Worry About a Thing” and “Maybe I’m Amazed” sounds as if he was born singing these songs. His performance contains an engine-like energy that keeps on going, never feeling forced but rather natural and inviting.

“A Little Help From My Friends” is available on Amazon.com and iTunes.

“Samson and Delilah” — A Biblical Love Story Inspires New Musical

January 29th, 2014 Comments off

Contributor Scott Redman reviews the concept recording of Samson and Delilah: A Love Story.

samsonThe Bible has been the source of multiple successful musicals including Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Samson and Delilah now joins the mix of Bible-inspired musicals. A new concept recording, Samson and Delilah: A Love Story, releases February 11 with music and lyrics by Ron Yatter, a former William Morris agent.

Listening to the recording is like taking a trip in the Hot Tub Time Machine back to the era when Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Cameron Mackintosh ruled the roost of the West End and Broadway with their mega musicals, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera.

The epic tale is re-told as a contemporary rock/pop musical, telling the story of Samson (Ace Young), a young man whose strength hinges on the existence of his hair. Delilah (Diana DeGarmo), the sex driven lover of Samson, betrays him and cuts his hair in a moment of passionate jealousy.

The score is billed as a “unique combination of classic legit theater and pop/rock, creating a new musical sound” and is reminiscent of Chess, Dance of the Vampires and the European spectacle, Notre Dame de Paris. The score is filled with ballads very similar to Frank Wildhorn’s over-the-top belting style rampant in his gothic musical, Jekyll and Hyde.

The musical vocabulary of Samson and Delilah is comprised of catchy pop songs that feel outdated before they begin, often starting with soft rock vamps and synthesized intros. Understanding this is a concept album, the songs feel truncated and rarely build into a second thought or reaction to the initial impulse of the song. For example, Samson’s song, “Apple of My Eye”, where he extends his intentions for Delilah as a companion has a pleasant drive that begins the tune. There is a build towards the end of the song and then it ends abruptly. I was hoping the composer would use this opportunity to twist the intention of the character or use it to build a plot point. Instead it goes for a concert ending with a sustained note held admirably by Ace Young.

The lyrics are plain and broad. They lack texture and do not give a sense of setting or time period of the piece. The first track, “When Samson Is Here,” repeats the same idea with the men proclaiming, “We like to sample beauty. We like to pour the brew…We like the scent of women. We like the taste of wine.” This could apply to any sector of history and fails to put the show in a place of its own.  In the song “Let This Night Go On Forever”, the title is also repeated, gives little insight to the heart of the story and is paired with bland commentary, “Come what may tomorrow, I’m with my love tonight.”

The challenge of turning this concept album into a fully realized production will be to place these songs in a world that the audience can relate to, and to sculpt characters that exhibit truthful actions and emotions. Musically, Samson and Delilah fails to break new ground—this show is 25 years too late. It might have worked in the theatrical era of helicopters, chandeliers and the “pop opera,” but for now, the story seems best suited for the Bible.

There will be a special 54 BELOW album launch concert January 29 at 9:30 pm and January 30 at 9:30 pm where attendees will be able to buy the album two weeks early.

diana_ace

CD Review: Sierra Boggess Awakens at 54 Below

December 12th, 2013 Comments off

Contributor Scott Redman gives a listen to Awakening, the new live recording by Broadway’s Sierra Boggess. 

sierraSierra Boggess, best known for her portrayal of Ariel in Broadway’s The Little Mermaid, recently performed a cabaret act,  Awakening, at 54 Below in New York City. It is now available for purchase on CD and digital download. The show was stirred by the book, Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling by Dr. Wayne Dyer who Boggess credits as changing her perspective on life. She quotes the book throughout her performance and even encourages the audience to pick up their own copy. At some points the couplets of wisdom outstay their welcome, but Ms. Boggess’ crystal sounding voice makes up for the unwanted jibber jabber.

The night starts off where all bouts of inspiration do, in confidence, with the delightful Rodgers and Hammerstein tune, “I Have Confidence.” Boggess’ set list includes everything from show arias from her favorite operas, Disney tunes and Broadway classics. Boggess graciously extends her stage time to include her father, Mike Boggess, who accompanies her on the guitar playing “Wildflowers.” It soon becomes a family affair with her sister, Summer Boggess, playing the cello on selected numbers.

Highlights of the recording include “The Ultimate Medley with Apologies to Andrew Lloyd Webber,” which takes a hilarious spin on pop stars and opera singers miscast in Webber musicals. The romp shows off the range of expression and sense of humor Boggess can deliver when put to the test. Her rendition of “Think of Me” done as an impression of a pop star ala Brittney Spears is pure entertainment.

The clear-toned power of her voice is best showcased in “A Quiet Thing” from Kander & Ebb’s Flora the Red Menace. Her voice immediately places you in the scene alongside the bittersweet realization that some of life’s greatest experiences are the simplest. She uses the song to explain her emotional reaction to meeting her idol, Barbra Streisand, backstage after a concert in Brooklyn. Her rendition of the song is powerful enough to ignite a revival of the musical.

The most honest and touching part of the evening surrounds Boggess’ recollection of her grandparents. She reminisces going through a collection of old letters of correspondence between her grandfather (a World War II veteran) and her grandmother during the 1940s. This section personifies the power of love one can achieve with sacrifice and perseverance. Boggess brings the evening to a climax as she sings “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.” I did not attend the live concert but can’t imagine a dry eye in the house after hearing this heartfelt story accompanied by a clenching ode to past times.

The evening twists and turns between effortless singing intertwined with Dr. Phil-like expressions that teeter between summer camp credos and vacation Bible school. It is clear that the show lacked direction and Boggess could have used an objective point of view on how to package the material. A director might also have helped shaped the songs into Ms. Boggess’ own interpretation rather than adding accents and simulated emotion. Boggess has a terrific instrument that is fragile and refined — with creative direction she will undoubtedly reappear as a leading lady of Broadway.

 Awakening is available at Amazon.com or for digital download on iTunes.

Take the jump for a video taste of Ms. Boggess singing “Falling in Love with Love.

Read more…

Bebe Neuwirth’s “Stories… in NYC: Live at 54 Below”

November 22nd, 2013 Comments off

Contributor Scott Redman gives a listen to Bebe Neuwirth’s new release, Stories… in NYC.

Bebe Neuwirth's "Stories... in New York: Live at 54 Below"

Bebe Neuwirth’s “Stories… in New York: Live at 54 Below”

Bebe Neuwirth, the sultry sounding Broadway triple threat dancer /singer/actress, has recently released a live recording of her performance at New York City’s iconic cabaret space, 54 Below.

Stories… in NYC: Live at 54 Below (available as digital download or CD) showcases the unchained power of a true performer who does everything in her body to portray songs with passion and truth. Neuwirth is dynamically accompanied by  music director and pianist Scott Cady. The 19 tracks include songs from Broadway as well as standards and contemporary selections.

What makes this recording astounding is Neuwirth’s ability to communicate explicitly without regret overflowing with raw passion. Neuwirth starts the evening singing “I Love a Piano”, her old audition song that gave her the opportunity to perform on Broadway, as she recalls her first audition for the musical Dancin’. Neuwirth’s signature vibrato flourishes like the lights of Times Square. Her quirky delivery is often self-depricating as she commits to the audience to perform story songs that have a personal connection to her life as a dancer. There is chatter between musical numbers as Neuwirth engages the audience.

Musical highlights include Kurt Weill’s “Susan’s Dream,” which examines the relationship between dreams and reality. Neuwirth’s voice is primed with a haunting tone as she uncovers the staleness in everyday life. “Mr. Bojangles” (written by Jerry Jeff Walker) tells the story of a southern gypsy dancer who has led a life entertaining those around him. Here Neuwirth isn’t just performing — she is embodying the song, which sounds like a conversation with an old friend. She doesn’t just sing of “Mr. Bojangles” but knows him and understands the pain and joy in his life. “Mr. Bojangles. Mr. Bojangles… dance.”

Neuwirth particularly delivers the Kander and Ebb songs “And the World Goes ‘Round” and “Ring Them Bells” with exceptional aplomb. It is here that the dancer inside Neuwirth relaxes and embodies the music and lyrics as if she is slipping into a snug leather glove. The rhythms come naturally to a dancer who has lived through John Kander and Fred Ebb’s songs and shows (Neuwirth won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Velma Kelly in the 1996 revival of Chicago).

Stories… in NYC offers an exceptional showcase of Bebe Neuwirth’s talent, which is a rare power to convey an array of emotional values and give meaning to lyrics. The final song “Shiver Me Timbers” demonstrates this immense power. The balance between brassy and quiet moments of her singing allows the listener to experience the full vigor what a talented performer with a simple piano accompaniment can deliver to an audience. Her approach is wholly unique and uses the sentiments of New York City to tell her stories. Keep telling them Bebe.

Stories… in NYC can be purchased at amazon.com or on iTunes.

Here’s a rare look at Bebe’s silly side as she reinterprets “All That Jazz” for Musical Madlibs.

Theater Buzz Beyond Broadway

September 11th, 2013 Comments off

We’re in a bit of a lull as the Broadway season is about to kick off, but have no fear—we can create our own drama here at the Broadway Blog. Broadway openings later this month include Romeo & Juliet and The Glass Menagerie. What is happening a few steps off of the Great White Way? Take a look…

One of our favorite productions from the West End last season, Merrily We Roll Along, will be screened as part of Fathom Events on October 23. If you are a Sondheim fan, we hear by order you to attend or we’ll revoke your fan club card. Set over three decades in the entertainment business, Merrily We Roll Along charts the relationship between three friends Franklin, Mary and Charley. Travelling backwards in time, the score features some of Sondheim’s most beautiful songs including “Good Thing Going” and “Not a Day Goes By.” Cinema audiences will be treated to an exclusive backstage experience with cast interviews and more! CLICK HERE for tickets, which go on sale September 13.

(photo: 54 Below)

(photo: 54 Below)

For all your self-embracing theater geeks out there, the cast of the 2003 film Camp will reunite at 54 Below on Friday, October 3. Director Todd Graff and actors Robin De Jesus, Brittany Pollack and others will be present for a pre-screening talkback. The film includes pre-Glee teen interpretations from hit shows such as Company and Dreamgirls. 

For those fans of American history (or if you just like to see men in tights), American Conservatory Theater presents a brand new staging of the Tony-winning 1776. This West Coast premiere is directed by Frank Galati and traces the heated debates surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence. According to ACT, “More than 230 years ago, our founding fathers wrestled with infighting, held heated debates, and negotiated compromises while drafting the Declaration of Independence. In this exhilarating work, the political skirmishes that played out centuries ago have surprising contemporary resonance. Hailed by critics as “brilliant,” “thrilling,” and “utterly riveting”—and filled with glorious music and unforgettable characters—1776 takes us on a vivid, rousing, and suspenseful adventure into the fascinating first chapter of American history.”

That’s Cabaret: Andrea McArdle Gives an Energetic and Upbeat Performance in San Francisco

August 24th, 2013 Comments off

Contributor Heather Cassell is delighted by Broadway great Andrea McArdle’s latest cabaret offering. 

Andrea McArdle

Andrea McArdle

Tony-nominated Andrea McArdle greeted the full house at Feinstein’s inside the Nikko Hotel with an energetic song, as she made her way onto the stage and belted “Native New Yorker” to a lively audience.

The crowd at times burst into song along with McArdle, who at 49-years old  is as spunky and upbeat as ever. She enjoyed performing along with musical director Steve Marzullo as much as the audience enjoyed listening to the music and stories she told in between songs from 70’s and Sunny: Live At 54 Below. McArdle’s latest release, her first from the Broadway Records label recorded live at 54 BELOW (254 West 54th Street), is what she calls a “verbal journal” of her youth as a showbiz kid in 1970s New York City.

The album’s songs are a mix of favorites from the 70s that made her want to sing, from “Rainy Days and Mondays” to obscure Broadway show tunes, such as “Fallin’,” which never even made it into a show. Of course the album also features “Tomorrow,” the iconic ballad from Annie that set off McArdle’s illustrious career.

She wrapped up the show with an encore tribute to San Francisco featuring “The Trolley Song” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Her voice is impeccable and youthful, even after hours of rehearsal and what she calls “texture” from age. With a voice so pure and true, McArdle hit every note effortlessly, as if singing is the most natural thing in the world. Between songs and while interacting with both the audience and Marzullo at the piano, she shared her memories of growing up around stars such as Carol Channing, Liberace and many more.

The show is delightful and entertaining, the epitome of cabaret. McArdle is a perfect performer who knows her music and clearly loves performing. This is a good time out on the town that should not be missed.

McArdle performs again tonight (August 24, 2013) at Feinstein’s at the Hotel Nikko (222 Mason St., 415-394-1111) in San Francisco at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 – $55.

Heather Cassell is a freelance journalist and travel writer with more than 20 years experience covering LGBT and women’s issues. When Heather isn’t wandering off learning and writing about women’s and LGBT issues, she covers business, health and other news for a number of publications as well as the syndicated “Out in the World” international LGBT news column.