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July 23, 2010

6

Broadway in Bryant Park recap: ‘A Little Night Music’ and ‘Rock of Ages’

by Jesse North

Unbalanced was the word of the day for the third concert in the Broadway in Bryant Park series, this week featuring A Little Night Music, the off-Broadway Falling For Eve, Chicago, and Rock of Ages. Although the meaty middle was dull, the concert was bookended by high points.

The first of the bookends was A Little Night Music. I have to say that my heart leapt when the announcer introduced Leigh Ann Larkin to the stage. I knew that she’d be singing “The Miller’s Son,” her character Petra’s only solo in the show—which is one of my favorite moments from the current production. Larkin couldn’t be sexier when she performs this number. She is playful and wide eyed, yet moves like a siren on the stage. Youch! After a fantastic performance from Larkin (which was unfortunately plagued by sound glitches beyond her control), I was shocked to see her leave the stage and hear the announcer introduce the next musical. That Night Music should only get one performance is absurd. I was not surprised that its stars, Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch, were not present to perform, but surely the rest of the (fantastic) supporting cast could have entertained. A lot of Night Music’s numbers would make little sense when taken out of the show’s context, but “The Glamorous Life” and “Every Day A Little Death” would have worked fine. That Larkin would be sent to represent such a gigantic show (and cast) alone was surprising.

Video: “The Miller’s Son”

The new off-Broadway musical Falling For Eve followed Night Music and performed three songs. While the show might need the extra stage time to promote ticket sales (the show closes August 8), I would venture to say the Bryant Park crowd had a lot more interest in Night Music than Eve. I wasn’t impressed with Eve’s showcase. The musical, with the book written by Memphis’ Joe DiPietro, is a musical comedy about the Biblical figures Adam and Eve falling in love. From the performances, the lyrics are painfully literal (“I like the tiger and the zebra and the cockatoo / But mostly I like / I like you”) and the actors were overcompensating. The only saving grace was Ragtime’s Sasha Sloan, whose voice truly stood out.

Next up was that ol’ Broadway mainstay, Chicago, and it seemed to be the first showcase of the day that really got the crowd excited. The cast opened with “All That Jazz” and excellently used the entire stage, and continued to do so for all four of their performances. Jason Patrick Sands displayed some underwhelming vocals as Billy Flynn on “All I Care About,” but again, the ensemble did a great job of utilizing the stage (and even incorporating props! What’s your excuse, Memphis and Night Music?). Notable was a lyric switch during “Roxie,” when “Sophie Tucker will flip I know” was created to appease the family-friendly audience.

Despite excellent decisions to incorporate a lot of the ensemble and display big performances, Chicago’s act came off a bit tired. (It was really hot out.) So to close the concert, the cast of Rock of Ages came out and won the crowd for the day. I normally wouldn’t praise Constantine Maroulis for showing up to perform (as I believe it is his responsibility, as the star), but in light of how few of these shows’ stars are participating in this concert series, I’m going to give him his due credit. It was clear that the crowd appreciated seeing him, and donning a “Rock is my religion” t-shirt, Maroulis led his co-stars on a powerful three-song set. These guys didn’t seem to be feeling the heat at all.

Video: “Here I Go Again”

Set lists:

A Little Night Music
“The Miller’s Son”

Falling For Eve
“I Like You”
“Where Will I Sleep Tonight?”
“Good Things Are A-Coming”

Chicago
“All That Jazz”
“All I Care About”
“Roxie”
“My Own Best Friend”

Rock of Ages
“Here I Go Again”
“High Enough”
“Don’t Stop Believin’”

Performing next week will be the casts of The Lion King, The Addams Family, Wicked, and Next to Normal. What did you think of this week’s Broadway in Bryant Park, Rushers? Were you disappointed that A Little Night Music only got one song? Are you as smitten by Leigh Ann Larkin as I am? Did you think Falling For Eve was funny or a little on the weak side? Did Constantine Maroulis rock with the Rock of Ages cast or what? Leave it all in the comments!

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kym
    Jul 23 2010

    What I want to know about Chicago is whether or not Colman Domingo was there! Although I don’t think he’s still in the cast, I’m still curious.

    Reply
    • Jul 23 2010

      @Kym: Even though Linda answered your question already below, no, Colman wasn’t there. I was hoping he’d be, and that’s why I was particularly excited to see CHICAGO. I haven’t heard from many people who have seen it, but what I have heard are all good reviews.

      Reply
  2. Linda
    Jul 23 2010

    Kym- Colman Domingo isn’t in the cast anymore, but I saw him as Billy Flynn and he was excellent. He really made the role his own, but he didn’t seem out of place in that role as I thought he might.

    Jesse- I’m going to defend Falling For Eve as I saw it last night (I wasn’t at Bryant Park, though). It’s not a great musical, but it’s cute and I really enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Were Krystal Joy Brown and Jose Llana there? I’m surprised you didn’t mention them. Their performances were the highlight of the show.

    Reply
    • Jul 23 2010

      @Linda: That’s cool that you saw FALLING FOR EVE last night! I can definitely see how it’s cute. I mean, I didn’t hate it. I’m just really tired of these musicals that get away with being cute, as an excuse for being simple. I think it’s an easy way out when writing a musical these days. There’s way too many out there. But then again, I haven’t seen the show—only their Bryant Park performance. Yes, both those actors were there. I didn’t mention them because they didn’t make a strong impression on me—only Sasha Sloan.

      Reply
  3. Judy
    Jul 23 2010

    I wasn’t there yesterday but since Constantine also mentioned that there were some sound issues, it’s possible that other performers may have had problems as well.
    Kudos to all of those who were on stage, though, and to Bryant Park et al for giving the public some ‘free’ Broadway!

    Reply
    • Jul 23 2010

      @Judy: I agree! This is one of my favorite events all year. It’s great that it’s free. And it really is a wonderful promotional event for the shows.

      Reply

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