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July 8, 2011


Broadway in Bryant Park recap: ‘Baby It’s You!’ and ‘Sister Act’

by Jesse North

Manhattan’s summer lunch breaks just got extended. There’s only one event that could justify an hour-and-a-half reprieve from the office, and that is the Broadway in Bryant Park concert series that kicked off Thursday afternoon. (Yes, my math is correct. The concert lasts an hour, but attendees should expect to get there at least a half hour early for a good seat.) Despite the gorgeous (if not intense) summer weather that beat down on the Bryant Park audience for the kick off installment, the concert series got off to an underwhelming start.

Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana was set to perform first. You might be wondering what act could be performed from the super-elaborate spectacle. The answer: not much. A couple minutes of clowns waddling through the sweaty crowd and a quick run across the stage comprised Zarkana’s bizarre performance—if you can call it that.

The women of Baby It’s You! took the stage to show what a performance is really about. The four actresses that play the Shirelles pounded out a medley of the girl group’s hits, with Christina Sajous spunky vocals mixing well with her Rihanna-style cropped hairdo. The cheesy costumes of the 60s were not missed, and the performance demonstrated that the musical works so much better as a tribute concert than a narrative show.

VIDEO: Baby It’s You! performs a Shirelles medley

The next act is one that has disappointed me three years in a row. The Stomp team took the stage with their brooms and pounded the Bryant Park stage further into the ground, without making any significant mark on the audience. I am confident the performance-art show works well in its home at the Orpheum Theater, but on the Bryant Park stage, it doesn’t translate. This made its super-long set list all the more painful.

The concert closed with the glitziest of the acts—Sister Act. Nominated for numerous Tony Awards and doing pretty well at the box office, this performance was highly anticipated. This made it all the more shocking when its Tony-nominated star, Patina Miller, was a no show. In her stead was Rashidra Scott, who belted out the solo “Fabulous, Baby” and lead the ensemble number “Take Me To Heaven.” This is an area of contention I revisited numerous times in last year’s concert series, but for a leading actor not to partake in Broadway in Bryant Park is a disappointment and a missed opportunity. Unless Miller was on vocal rest, she should have been there to represent her show.

VIDEO: Sister Act performs “Take Me To Heaven”

The beads of sweat produced during the kick-off concert was mostly due to the sun, not from intense performances. Yet here’s hoping that next week’s lineup of Chicago, Catch Me If You Can, Million Dollar Quartet, and Newsical brings heat other than that provided by the sun.

Set lists:

A bunch of waddling and blank stares

Baby It’s You!
“Soldier Boy” / “Mama Said” / “Tonight’s The Night”
“You’re So Fine”
“Rockin’ Robin”


Sister Act
“Lady In The Long Black Dress”
“Fabulous, Baby”
“Take Me To Heaven”

Did you enjoy the first installment of Broadway in Bryant Park, Rushers? Which was your favorite act? Do you think Patina Miller should have been on hand to perform for Sister Act? Do you think Aaron Tveit and Norbert Leo Butz will make an appearance for Catch Me next week? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Jul 8 2011

    i too get frustrated when the stars don’t show up, but i wonder whether it has more to do with producers not wanting to pay their fees than stars not wanting to show up. either way, a missed opportunity, for sure.

    i’m guessing norbert’s a pretty stand up guy, but from the way these things have been going, i’d guess he doesn’t show next week. aaron, on the other hand, kind of carries the show. i’d say he shows with kerry butler and a bunch of chorus girls. setlist includes “jet set,” “fly fly away,” and maybe “seven wonders.” “doctor’s orders” would be my alternate choice – though it’s kind of sexy for the park, no?


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