- CHARITY BENEFIT
By: Paulanne Simmons
1987 was not exactly the best of years. On June 11th, the series creator and host Scott Siegel pointed out 1987 was the year the stock market crashed on Black Monday, the Iran-Contra affair dominated news headlines, and Gary Hart and Jim Baker got into trouble thanks to their personal indiscretions. But it was also the year Prozac hit the market and AZT was approved for AIDS patients.
If 1987 was a troubled year, it also saw the Broadway opening of two iconic shows: Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s “Into the Woods” and Claude-Michel and Alain Boublil’s “Les Miserables.” Both of these shows, and several others, were amply represented in The Broadway Musicals of 1987.
Directed by Marc Kudisch and choreographed by Jeffry Denman, the show featured Denman, Kudisch, Santino Fontana, Kerry O’Malley, Ron Bohmer, Scott Coulter, Janine DiVita, Danielle Ferland and dancers Anna White and Kelly Sheehan, backed by the Ross Paterson Little Big Band. The Broadway by the Year Chorus, composed of young performers who appeared in Town Hall’s Annual Broadway’s Rising Stars concert, made its second appearance, directed by Scott Coulter.
Les Miserables and Into the Woods dominated the evening. The concert opened with the title song from Into the Woods and concluded with that show’s insightful “Children Will Listen.” Kudisch and Denman lamented the trials of fairy tale characters in “Agony.” and Ferland, who originated the role of Little Red Riding Hood, gave soulful and sweet renditions of “I Know Things Now” and “No One Is Alone.”
The Broadway by the Year Chorus closed Act One with the rousing “One More Day” and opened Act Two with the equally spirited “Do You Hear the People Sing?” both from Les Miserables. And Ron Bohmer’s “Bring Him Home” made many in the audience very happy they had not stayed home.
Of Course, Les Miserables and Into the Woods were not the only Broadway shows of note in 1987. “Starlight Express” crossed the Atlantic (on roller skates) to land in the George Gershwin Theatre. “Roza” was adapted for stage from the same Romain Gary novel that inspired the movie ”Madame Rosa.” Teddy and Alice” chronicled the president’s efforts to rein in his unruly daughter. “Stardust” took audiences back through three decades of musical history. And “Stepping Out,” another London import, this time had a cast dancing instead of roller skating across the stage.
In fact, two highlights of the evening were Jeffry Denman, Anna White and Kelly Sheehan tap dancing to “Stepping Out” and the band’s rendering of Stardust’s “Syncopated Clock,” a 1945 tune composed by Leroy Anderson, best known to older adults as the theme music for the Late Show.
1987 may not have been the best of years. But, as usual, Siegel has managed to find the best of that year and staged it with energy, style and sophistication.