NiteLife Person of the Week—Scott Siegel, Creator of tonight’s Broadway’s Rising Stars event (The Town Hall)
By Rob Lester ~
“Tonight, tonight, won’t be just any night…” to quote Stephen Sondheim’s lyric in West Side Story. And this is the story tonight, July 11, on the west side right across the street from The Stephen Sondheim Theatre on West 43rd Street at The Town Hall.
It takes one hand, one heart to set it in motion and emotion. Scott Siegel is the eternally youthful man. A boy like that could set these boys and girls off with a big head-start. I feel pretty confident that something’s coming in the way of exciting talent, taking off like a Jet. There’s a place for us –those who love going somewhere and experiencing those “a star is born moments.” On stage are the young graduates from musical theatre training programs who audition for a coveted spot in the annual concert showcase overseen by Scott Siegel, our NiteLife Person of the Week.
It’s just one of his many events of 2016, but one he is especially excited about. He told me, “There is no concert or nightclub act that I’ve created that has more emotional impact than Broadway’s Rising Stars. You can feel the heightened energy and excitement of the concert in the air of the theater — the cast members understand that this is the most important moment of their performing lives — to this point — and the audience knows it, too. This is the tenth year of the program and the extraordinary number of former Rising Stars from the last nine years who have carved out careers in the entertainment business is something we are very proud of. Just this season alone, we have had former Rising Stars in a huge cross section of Broadway’s musicals.” A couple of them appeared in that Sondheim Theatre in Beautiful, one going on in the lead role of Carole King as the understudy to actress Jessie Mueller who is now starring in Waitress. And there’s a former Rising Star in that show now, too! The season’s biggest hit, Hamilton, has three Siegel alumni. Bright Star was brightened by another, and The Color Purple and Spring Awakening featured one each as well.
So it’s a pretty safe bet that history will repeat itself and you’ll be able to say “I saw them ‘when’.” I’ve been to the concert in the past and the sense of discovery fills the air and the energy is excitingly palpable. Happily, the show’s title is not hyperbole.
Scott Siegel is creator and host of the showcase which is directed by longtime colleague and splendid singer himself, Scott Coulter. The two Scotts provide lots of spots (as in “spotlight”) for the young performers to shine, coaching them, advising them on material, and forming bonds and support that are evident in the group numbers. Along with Barbara Siegel (Mr. S’s collaborator, spouse, head cheerleader, the Zelda to this [F.] Scott, Glinda the Good Witch a.k.a. to his Florenz Ziegfeld, and indispensible advisor), they audition, encourage, and nurture the singers in preparations.
Mr. Siegel is quick to point out that the great accomplishments on the Great White Way by his neophyte artists is just the tip of the theater iceberg. “There are dozens of former Rising Stars who have been starring in national tours, performed Off-Broadway, headlined their own cabaret shows, appeared on TV, and many who now star in shows in their own countries like Spain, Brazil, Korea, Australia, etc.”
Tickets to the performance range from $25 to $40 and are available at the box office before the 8 pm Monday performance. You’ll hear some terrific musical theater songs given fresh energy and real character. The acoustically superb venue and its historic stage is a memorable place where these “kids” can trod the boards Broadway’s leading lights have performed in other Siegel-created concert series such as Broadway by the Year and the night where the microphones are turned off; singers project in the old-timey way— Broadway Unplugged (July 25) which is thrilling.
And Siegel is also loud and clear in his gratitude, the host ready to toast the folks that host the host and the cast: “I must say, The Town Hall has been magnificent in their support of Broadway’s Rising Stars. The Hall, which produces this show every year, does so at a substantial financial loss — but they are willing to do so because they think this show makes an important contribution to the arts — and by any measure, they are absolutely right. Broadway’s Rising Stars has become the launching pad for an extraordinary number of young talents.”
Broadway-loving Mr. S. has also been busy curating presentations at Feinstein’s/54 Below on West 54 Street. This month he is there with Broadway Originals —July 15 where performers revisit and recreate songs they did in big shows. Participants include Tony Danza, Eddie Korbich, Daniel Reichard, Josh Grisetti, Walter Willison, and Beth Fowler. There are salutes to jukebox musicals at the club on July 21, August 4, and August 18.
How does he do it all and continue to be an active theater reviewer with Barbara, direct cabaret performers like Carole J. Bufford and Maxine Linehan?
Perhaps this Energizer Bunny of cabaret and theatre got inspiration for his pet projects from a favorite pet of his, a bunny named Gracie, or admires the Easter Bunny who also really gets around (but works way fewer weeks per year). But sensible Siegel, unlike that cotton-tailed role model, does not put all his eggs in one basket. He is always hopping to another project.