Marquee Five and Ritzel’s Revelers and 54 Below Salute Broadway

BY ROB LESTER****Guess who’s back in town and on Broadway? I don’t mean Dolly, it’s that group full of radiant harmony, Marquee Five, although you will hear something from Hello, Dolly! and other Broadway fare because the group is embracing musical theatre scores in their brand new act, Broadway by the Letter.  A solid example of the axiom about the whole being more than the sum of its parts, their five-part blend has proved quite thrilling, even though each member on his/her own can be sterling.  When they burst on the cabaret scene, Julie Reyburn was a member and Mark Janas, who’d been her own musical director/pianist was at the keyboard.  In their new configuration, for this engagement, Dan Pardo is the man on piano and  Lynsey Buckelew — she is a blonde Southerner, and is their new mezzo, classically trained.  Broadway material is hardly new territory this group as they began in 2009 with a show focusing on the catalogue of Kander and Ebb and debuted Broadway by the Letter (Act One) four years ago at Feinstein’s/54 Below.  Now they’re appropriately on Theatre Row (West 42nd Street) at a space named for a Broadway performer— The Laurie Beechman Theatre — on the birth date of a Broadway songwriting icon, Cole Porter!  That’s June 9 at 7 PM.  The repertoire will include numbers from  Les Misérables and some Stephen Sondheim work like  Into the Woods and West Side Story (music by Leonard Bernstein), and many more.  Returning Marquee Fivers are Mick Bleyer, Vanessa Parvin, Sierra Reinand Adam West Hemming. Hemming keeps things humming (including his fellow singers, as the group’s attanger and musical director.  Matt Scharfglass will be on bass and Rich Huntley is the man on drums.  (Perhaps one of the singers will introduce the drummer by serenading him with the most famous song written by their beloved Steve —Sondheim, I mean, not the bass player— with its opening lines, “Isn’t it Rich? Are we a pair?”).  But, instead of a cue to send in the clowns (after all, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey just closed up shop), I suspect they’ll be sending in happy audiences if their past history is any indication.

Friday, June 9, 2017 at 7:00PM
The Laurie Beechman Theatre— 407 West 42nd Street Downstairs at the West Bank Cafe New York, NY 10036 (212)6956909

Parking is available at Manhattan Plaza Parking 427 W 42nd St (between 9th & 10th Aves) (212) 279-5213

General Admission: $20* *add’l $20 food/beverage minimum per person For tickets visit https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10146356

Meanwhile, if you can’t wait til “June is bustin’ out all over,” you can catch a lot of Broadway songs and history with Ricky Ritzel’s Broadway with its MAC Award-winning ways on Friday (tomorrow, May 26 at 7 pm) at the club Don’t Tell Mama, 343 West 46 Street with songs from the Great White Way in the way-popular ongoing series. Ritzel (at left, in vintage photo from the work of the late Russ Weatherford) the talented Tommy J. Dose who won two MAC Awards in March for his work at the venue —both for his ongoing piano bar work and his solo debut show — to be on the bill.  Also set is a wonderful woman with absolutely one of the very best and most radiantly emotional voices in town — Lisa Viggiano. And that multi-talented and very busy Lennie Watts takes a bit of time off from directing, being Prez of MAC and preparing for his exciting new venture, Singnasium.  Coincidentally, Ritzel’s trio of surveyed shows this time is a kind of Broadway by the letters, beginning at the beginning alphabetically, A/B/C, since one show’s title starts with the letter A, one with B, and one with C— Applause, Baby, Call Me Madam. Also appearing as the representative of the letter A (both upper and lower case) is Aaron Morishita, who was Ritzel’s partner in “Huh?” as the other half of the quirky but iconic and ironic and ultimately memorable (how could anyone forget even if they tried?) put-on lounge act, The Lounge-o-Leers and representing the letter C is the delightful Charlotte Patton.  With  no one’s first or last name starting with the letter B, Tommy J. Dose has graciously offered to change his name to Tommy B. Dose for the evening.  And to prevent any accusations about ignoring the end of the alphabet, Kristine Zbornik will represent the letterand points out to anyone who will listen that B is indeed the second letter of the surname she was zborn with, zback in the day.  The rarely pristine Kristine was her deliciously outrageously self in the last edition and joins Jon Satrom (Why? Is he coming apart?) and the irrepressibly spunky and impressively splashy Sidney Myer and regular (and regular guy) talent Jon Satrom, one more Don’t Tell Mama long-termer.  These group gaggles with giggles and Ritzel razzle-dazzle are always fun and full of talent and trivia.  And here’s a bit of fake news: Having a drink at Mama’s bar after seeing a rehearsal, MAC’s most recent Lifetime Achievement winner, Michele Lee, Bistro winner Mary Testa, and Tony winner Judy Kaye— all of whom had played Madame Morrible in Wicked a few blocks north — in unison reported to me, “Baby, applause will be ringing in your ears, but don’t quote me, and don’t tell Mama, and don’t call me ‘Madame.'”

Don’t Tell Mama 343 West 46 St.  http://donttellmamanyc.com/shows/main/ricky-ritzel-s-broadway-5-26-17

PS: At 9:30 PM staged reading of Godspell follows the Ritzelizationof the room http://donttellmamanyc.com/shows/main/alyssa-williams-presents-a-staged-reading-of-godspell-5-26-17

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And over at Feinstein’s/54 Below, where it’s all about Broadway a lot of the time, the end of May/start of June sees shows by married Broadway stars Jason Danieley and Marin Mazzie with Sondheim embraced by Melissa Errico and the regular variety pack Sondheim Unplugged.  Jersey Boys/Beautiful alumnus Jarrod Spector  is there now.