BROADWAY'S RISING STARS 2012 Send This Review to a Friend
There they were—17 performers pursuing their dreams, fueled by hope and showcased on July 23rd in the “Broadway’s Rising Stars” production in The Town Hall’s 6th annual Summer Broadway Festival. The effect was exhilarating with just a tinge of regret at the thought of how much competition they face in the theater world despite their enormous talents. The good news is that they already have been making headway on assorted fronts and that the “Rising Stars” exposure may help them advance further. They were chosen from auditions of candidates from various parts of the country and represent an assortment of acting programs and theatrical institutions.
Where to begin? Each one of the performers in the show, created, written and hosted by Scott Siegel, is worthy of individual attention. The powerful opening with the entire company assembled to sing “Doors” from “Closer Than Ever,” a symbolic choice, afforded the opportunity to scan the talent lineup. Of course, some of the ensuing numbers were more sensational than others. When Hannah Solow, Cha’Nequa C. Stevens, Alexandrea Tocco and Nichole Turner took center stage to turn on the body language while belting “I’m a Woman,” they were so great that The Town Hall rocked with cheers during and after the number.
Rickey Alan Saunders was vibrantly entertaining as he triumphantly sang “If My Friends Could See Me Now” from “Sweet Charity,” in which the number belongs to the female lead. But he showed that a guy could turn the song to his advantage as well.
“Glitter and Be Gay” from “Candide” is so vocally demanding that just to get through it is an achievement. But not only did Megan Meyer soar thrillingly with the operatic high notes, but she had much fun with the character, creating delightful comic moments that turned the performance into a tour de force. And to boot, she sang it without a mike, her clarity ringing through the hall.
Alex Mansoori showed off a strong, rich leading-man voice singing “She Was There” from “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” earning him a special ovation.
All this, mind you, was just in the first act. And there was much more before intermission. Ashley Perkins shone singing “Waiting for Life” from “Once on This Island.” Hannah Kiem injected tender feelings singing “I Got Lost in His Arms” from “Annie Get Your Gun” and the clarity with which she delivered her lyrics was enviable.
Paula Buresh sang “He Touched Me” from “Drat! the Cat!” and she sure touched her audience.
The tendency for most of the singers was to build to powerful endings. Elizabeth Sauter took a different route with “Sailing.” from “A New Brain.” She created a tender mood and extracted the beauty from the music and lyrics. Carlton Terrence Taylor sang “I’ve Gotta Be Me” from “Golden Rainbow,” and you’d better believe that it had to be him. He strongly established himself with the vigor and personality that should impress any casting director.
Scott Siegel, hosting with his customary witty introductions and comments, took the occasion to salute Marvin Leffler, President of the Town Hall, who will be retiring after a long leadership period during which many distinguished programs were presented. Most recently under his watch, The Town Hall was named a National Historic Landmark. Leffler has a birthday coming up, and accordingly, the entire company sang “Happy Birthday” to him. The company ended the first act with a rousing rendition of “Let the Sun Shine In” from “Hair”—fully clothed.
The second act opened with a spirited “Seize the Day” from “Newsies” sung by Ricky Alan Saunders, Sean Buhr, Felipe Tavolaro, Carlton Terrence Taylor, Max Chernin and Alex Mansoori. The second act also brought more standouts. Felipe Tavolaro demonstrated that with his voice he could sing “Man of La Mancha” with the best of them. Nichole Turner turned on the heat giving a rousing rendition of “Fools Fall in Love” from “Smokey Joe’s Café,” and rousing is also the word for what Cha’Nequa C. Stevens did with “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Katelyn Lauria in no uncertain terms made short shrift of men for their duplicity singing “Men” from “So Long, 174th Street.” A guy wouldn’t want to get in her way when she sings that number. Max Chernin did an excellent job singing “Good Thing Going” from “Merrily We Roll Along.” Teaming for “Bless Our Show” from “Sister Act,” Paula Buresh, Ashley Perkins Elizabeth Sauter, Hannah Kiem, Megan Meyer, Laura Enrech and Katelyn Lauria made an especially entertaining women’s contingent.
Alexandrea Tocco mined “Jekyll & Hyde” for “Someone Like You” and did the number justice. And nobody does it like Hannah Solow, as she impressively demonstrated sinigng “Nobody Does It Like Me” from “Seesaw.” Credit Sean Buhr for his solid rendition of “Flight” and Laura Enrich for strength in interpreting “Breathe” from “In the Heights.”
After Alex Mansoori led the company to conclude the show with “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel,” the audience justifiably cheered approval of this remarkable sea of talent.
The show was effectively directed by Scott Coulter and choreographed by Vibecke Dahle, with musical direction by John Fischer. Reviewed at The Town Hall, 123 West 43rd Street. Phone: 212-840-2824. Posted