REVIEW WILL TAKE PLACE AFTER SYNOPSIS
Broadway’s tribute to the genius of Rodgers & Hammerstein is truly A Grand Night for Singing. This Tony Award®-nominated Best Musical showcases Richard Rodgers’ timeless music and the incomparable lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein. It will take you on a romantic musical journey from young infatuation to the touching and funny complexities of commitment and marriage, the joys of parenthood, and finally, the power of enduring love.
From “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” to “Some Enchanted Evening,” A Grand Night for Singingfeatures over 30 of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s greatest hits from shows such as Carousel, Oklahoma!, The King and I, South Pacific and more —“something wonderful” indeed for all lovers of classic musical theater. It doesn’t get any grander than this!
AND NOW ON TO THE REVIEW!
A show called A Grand Night for Singing carries with it some expectations…basically that it will be, well, grand. And have singing. Lots of singing. Well, I can tell you with 1000% certainty that there was indeed a lot of singing. About 50 songs in total, all of the tunes were from one Rodgers and Hammerstein show or another. Shows like Sound of Music, Cinderella, The King and I and Carousel. This was classic Broadway at it’s best.
As for the grand part in the title…well, let’s just say one a scale of one to ten for grandness, it was an eight.
Let me ‘splain.
A Grand Night for Singing is a musical tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein, and while the R&H songbook is full of gems, the problem I encountered with the revue was that there wasn’t much plot to it. All forward momentum of the musical was based on which song was coming up next. If the show was a box full of chocolates, you never knew what you was gonna get. (Unless you uh, looked at the program.) It was that not knowing, that sense that at any minute, your favorite song could be sung next. (And by extraordinary singers, but we’ll get to that in a moment.) The novelty of that breath abated waiting wore off pretty quickly and I was looking for that golden thread to keep the songs relevant and strong. I sort of got it, as the cast was comprised of three girls and two guys and they each played off each other here and there – either as boyfriend and girlfriend or boy pining for girl or girl yearning for boy or girl kicking the boy to the curb, etc.
So there was that interaction. But as I was watching A Grand Night for Singing, I was reminded of the musical revue of Stephen Sondheim’s work, Putting it Together. What made that show great was the fact that there was a solid plot and well-rounded characters. You had high stakes and characters that had a goal they may not succeed in attaining. You had a show where you cared not only about the songs being sung, but about the characters being portrayed.
So while the plot suffered a bit, the talent of the show made up for it in spades. The characters in A Grand Night for Singing are Paul played by Paul-Jordan Jansen, Kristiann played by Kristiann Menotiades, Katie played by Katie Oxman, Bre played by Bre Pursell and John played by John Wascavage. All five actors have incredibly distinct voices and styles and really put their own stamp on their roles and songs. Krstiann has the voice of the belter while Bre sounds like an opera star at times; Katie and John had incredible tone – their voices were a thing of pure ease. (Loooved when John sang Surrey With a Fringe on Top.) But it was Paul-Jordan Jansen who stole the show. Belting out numbers like Oh What A Beautiful Morning and This Nearly Was Mine, his voice – and character – was incredibly colorful. He was a joy to watch.
Since the Cabaret’s opening, I have seen every show they’ve put on. From Forever Plaid to I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, to My Way it’s a class act theater all the way. And can I give a quick shout out to Randall Kirk (manager) and the entire staff of the Cabaret here and now? They are attentive, efficient, and kind. Great job, guys. 🙂 A Grand Night For Singing is, I believe, the twelfth full-length show to be produced there. The Cabaret really seems to understand its audience and what they like and don’t like. (They brought back Forever Plaid a few times and even had an Xmas Forever Plaid special…yeah, they totally know who their audience is.) There wasn’t an empty table in the house and the applause after every number was thunderous.
This show runs through January 20, 2013 and it’s the perfect way to escape the winter chill. It’s nostalgia at it’s best and singing at it’s finest. It really is a box of chocolates: a sweet, delicious indulgence best shared with friends.
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