Twenty-one immensely talented hopefuls strutted their stuff last night (July 10) at the annual “Broadway Rising Stars” show at The Town Hall, created, written and hosted by Scott Siegel and snappily directed by Scott Coulter. They stem from various parts of this country and even from abroad, and are mostly from schools for the arts in New York and elsewhere. Not unexpectedly, their various numbers often ended with big finishes as they enthusiastically strived to flash their ranges and power.
The opening was most appropriate. The entire company, an impressive lot as a group, tore into the song “This Is The Moment” from “Jekyll and Hyde,” making it clear that this was their moment to shine. For the closing number, the group reassembled to sing “You Will Be Found” from “Dear Evan Hansen,” and it came across as a prediction for their future. The challenge is great, given the array of competing talent in show business. But many in the contingent have already had significant experience, reflected in their résumés accompanied by photos in the program. Many performers in past "Broadway Rising Stars" showcases have gone on to success.
The audience was filled with parents, relatives and friends who cheered enthusiastically. In all cases the applause was well-deserved. Scott Siegel, ever the amiable host, provided introductions with information about the assorted backgrounds and in many cases family support. The most dramatic family connection was for Andy Kear, who energetically and entertainingly sang “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” from “Guys and Dolls.” His three brothers managed to get leave from the Navy to see their brother perform.
It is tough to do justice to all. Ladies first. Brooke Wetterhahn, who studied an New York University’s Tisch Department of Drama’s New Studio on Broadway, projected maturity in ```zestfully singing “Before the Parade Passes By” from “Hello, Dolly!” Naree Ketudat, from NYU Steinhardt, gave a bouncy, full-of-movement interpretation of “If My Friends Could See Me Now” from “Sweet Charity.” Sophie Rapiejko, a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College’s musical theater program, rose to the occasion with a powerful rendition of “Astonishing” from “Little Women.”
Nazarria Workman, who studied at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York (AMDA), impressively sang the difficult “Home” from “The Wiz.” Elisa Galindez, who studied at CAP21 and Hofstra, gave a sample of her big voice with “I Think I May Want To Remember this Day” from “Starting Here, Starting Now.” Katelyn Malloy (AMDA), with a striking stage presence, rendered “Part of Your World” from “The Little Mermaid” in a well-modulated interpretation. Lauren Kolas (CAP21) has a golden voice, excitingly on display with her “Someone Like You” from “Jekyll and Hyde.”
The show “Urinetown” yielded a very funny number--“It’s a Privilege to Pee,” and Sarah Burke (AMDA) turned on the comic heat with a superb delivery. The song “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked” presents a strong challenge, and Shauna Topian (Cincinnati Conservatory of Music) dramatically rose to the occasion. Liron Gavri, who studied at Lipper ‘s Musical Theatre Academy in Israel, wisely used “I Don’t Want to Know” from “Dear World,” enabling her to demonstrate her fine voice and solid stage presence.
What power Mia Gerachis (NYU's Tisch-New Studio on Broadway) demonstrated singing “Maybe This Time” from “Cabaret”! Annette Berning (AMDA), who hails from Bergen, Norway, brought class in singing “You There in the Back Row” from “13 Days to Broadway.” Lieselotte Nickmans studied at AMDA and also at The Royal Conservatory of Brussels. Her song was “Being Alive” from “Company” and she made the number soar. There is no question that Ruby Shadley (AMDA) has a great soprano voice, convincingly demonstrated when she sang “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from the “The Sound of Music.”
Turning to the men in the show, one of the evening’s most entertaining stints came from Matt Ross (Steinhardt) singing “Pink Fish,” Alan Menken’s song about a rube coming to New York and being bewildered by lox. Ross, striding all over the stage, did the novelty number hilariously. Tyler Jensen (University of Northern Colorado) cut a handsome figure with a romantic voice as he sang “Why, God, Why?” from “Miss Saigon.” Anthony Massa (Macaulay Honors College of CUNY) showed off his appealing voice with “If I Can Love Her” from “Beauty and the Beast.”
There was extra meaning for Dan Gettler (CCM) when he passionately and powerfully sang “I Am What I Am” from “La Cage Aux Folles.” In his introduction Siegel disclosed that Gettler had been born prematurely and in growing up had to struggle to overcome breathing problems. The song in effect came across as his own statement of conquest. Ryan McConville (Wagner College) was especially enjoyable singing “Purpose” from “Avenue Q” and Willie Demyan (AMDA) showed his special talent dynamically singing Craig Carnelia’s “Flight.”
Director Scott Coulter merits credit for giving the performers a professional glow, and communicating energy in the mass numbers, as with the company’s supercharged first act closer, “Aquarius” and “Let the Sun Shine In” from “Hair.” Vibecke Dahle’s choreography added sparkle in appropriate spots. With so many varied numbers, John Fischer accomplished a big task as music director, in addition to being at the piano, along with Jerry DeVore on bass and Zak Eldridge on drums. Rick Hinkson was assistant director and assistant stage manager, and Joe Burke and Keith Thompson were production assistants. At The Town Hall, 123 West 43rd Street. Reviewed July 11, 2017.