As if he didn’t have enough to do, prolific producer Scott Siegel, best known for his “Broadway By The Year” series and other ventures at The Town Hall, has been producing a lively Thursday night series that continues to run weekly at 11 o’clock each Thursday at Feinstein’s at the Regency. The idea is appropriate—“11 O’Clock Numbers at 11 O’Clock.” The concept virtually guarantees great songs, for as theater buffs know, the eleven o’clock number tag was applied to a show’s climactic musical number that was supposed to wow an audience, the time a holdover for when shows started later. The other ingredient, of course, is a prime selection of performers, and the current run certainly has that.
Singer-director Scott Coulter not only performs but acts as host—John Fischer is musical director--and two extraordinary women singers, Carole J. Bufford and Christina Bianco, are the other stars. On the night I attended, all three were in superb form and the entertainment was exhilarating. For starters, Coulter demonstrated that you don’t have to be a child to sing “Tomorrow” from “Annie.” He made the number soar with hope that takes on a broader meaning when an adult sings the lyrics. Coulter joked that as a youngster he wanted to be Annie, but that he grew up looking like Daddy Warbucks. He also gave a sensitive rendition of “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
I’ve admired Bufford’s work previously, but noted dynamic new strength projected in her numbers. She rendered a terrific “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?” from “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.” She did a rousing “The Winner Takes It All” from “Mamma Mia” and had fun with “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” from “Grease.”
Bianco, who can electrically charge a room with such numbers as “As Long As He Needs Me” from “Oliver!” and “Gimme, Gimme That Thing Called Love” from “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” has a brilliant routine that not only shows off her voice but reveals her comedic skills and expertise as an impersonator. I had seen her do the routine using the song “Annie.” This time she used the title song from “Cabaret.” She sang it as Barbra Streisand, Bernadette Peters, Kristin Chenoweth, Judy Garland, Julie Andrews, Patti LuPone and Celine Dion might sing it. The impressions were uncannily on target, down to body movement, facial expressions and vocal differences and styles. What a coup!
In addition to their solo spots, the stars of the show joined as a trio to perform “Sing for Your Supper,” “Being Alive” and “What I Did For Love.” All in all, it is well worth having a late Thursday night out. At Feinstein’s at The Regency Hotel, 540 Park Avenue at 61st Street. Phone: 212-339-4095.