Magnolia and More in Full Bloom at Broadway by the Year

PlayBlog   Magnolia and More in Full Bloom at Broadway by the Year
 
Kate Baldwin, late of Broadway's Finian's Rainbow, has played Marian the Librarian in The Music Man and Maria in The Sound of Music in her career, but never that other "M" soprano of musical theatre history — Magnolia of Show Boat. At least not in a full production.


On Feb. 22, Baldwin sang "You Are Love," the famous Magnolia-Gaylord duet from Show Boat as the first-act closer of the Broadway by the Year concert at The Town Hall in Manhattan. Her Gaylord for the night was Alex Gemignani, who also directed the Monday concert devoted to The Broadway Musicals of 1927.

"I do hope that there's a Show Boat in my future," Baldwin told PlayBlog. "I've sung the Magnolia material for concerts and auditions; it's so glorious."

In Act Two of The Broadway Musicals of 1927, Baldwin brought down the house with her rendition of "Bill," the reflective ballad that belongs to Julie, not Magnolia, in Show Boat.

"Being invited to sing 'Bill' for this concert was unexpected and thrilling," she said. "In working on the song, I discovered that there are no rests anywhere, which makes breathing 'an event.' I have to believe that it was intentional on Jerome Kern's part. In a way, the vocal line becomes more vulnerable the steadier you sing it. And it's a soprano song, which I never knew before. We've approached it in its original key, paying strict attention to the rhythms and the result is so beautiful and so devastating."

The concert was filled with other "devastating" moments, and shouts of approval from the audience. Among the highlights: rising cabaret actress Carole Bufford's sensitive "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man"; Marc Kudisch's "Here I Am Broken Hearted" (a little known DeSylva-Brown-Henderson song); Ragtime alumni Christiane Noll and Quentin Earl Darrington's "Make Believe"; and a tap-dance duet ("The Babbitt and the Bromide") between nimble Noah Racey and Jeffry Denman that channeled Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, borrowing the masters' choreography.

This was the kick-off of the tenth season of Broadway by the Year, created and hosted by Scott Siegel, with musical direction and arrangements by Ross Patterson. Next up: The Musicals of 1948 on March 22. Visit www.the-townhall-nyc.org.

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