The Town Hall, the multi-discipline Manhattan venue on West 43rd Street, just off Times Square, is introducing a new musical-theatre concert series that may give other show-tune series some competition.
The new "Musicals on Broadway" series is written, produced and hosted by New York author and critic Scott Siegel, and the first two evenings will focus on Broadway theatre music from different years — The Broadway Musicals of 1943 (8 PM March 19) and The Broadway Musicals of 1957 (8 PM April 16). Siegel will offer context and commentary throughout the evenings. He said future concerts will focus on different years, and different musical flavors.
The 1943 evening features songs from Oklahoma!, Something For the Boys, Ziegfeld Follies of 1943, A Connecticut Yankee, Early to Bed, One Touch of Venus, Carmen Jones, and Lerner and Loewe's obscure, What's Up. Performers include Heather MacRae (Falsettos), Sally Mayes (Pete 'n' Keely, She Loves Me) and Jason Graae (Forever Plaid). Russ Patterson is musical director and pianist, with John Loehrke on bass.
The 1957 evening features songs from West Side Story, The Music Man, New Girl in Town, Copper & Brass and Shinbone Alley. Singers include Alix Korey (Suburb, MTC's The Wild Party), Eric Michael Gillette (Kiss Me, Kate) and Adriane Lenox (Kiss Me, Kate), with Jay Rogers as a special guest. D. Jay Bradley is on piano, and drums will accompany. Gillette directs both evenings.
Fan of theatre music will see this new series as a chance to get in on the ground floor of a potentially hot new addition to the popular show-tune concerts that have proliferated in Manhattan — Encores!, Musicals Tonite, Lyrics and Lyricists represent competition and have different goals and structures. The "Musicals on Broadway" series has the year-by-year concept as a departure from the other series. Siegel expects the best of the Broadway and cabaret worlds to be part of the series in the future. Cabaret stars feel at home at Town Hall: The annual MAC Awards are held there.
The Town Hall offers eclectic programming — lectures, film, dance, rock, comedy, theatre and more — year round. About 90 percent of the work seen there is by rental arrangement. The new "Musicals on Broadway" series is produced by The Town Hall. Siegel is host of The Town Hall's film series. Wealthy suffragists built The Town Hall — designed by McKim, Mead and White — in 1921 as a place to meet, share ideas and hear speakers. It was a setting for "town meetings" that were broadcast by NBC. The hall's acoustics proved prime for concerts and the building evolved into a concert and performance house over the years. New York University helped revive the space in the 1970s as its current multi-disciplinary house. It achieved landmark status in 1978.
Tickets are $30-$35. Town Hall is at 123 W. 43rd St. For ticket information, call (212) 840-2824 or (212) 307-4100, or visit www.the-townhall-nyc.org.
— By Kenneth Jones