Hip, Hip, Hurrah for Scott Siegel's Broadway Ballyhoo, the hour-long Musical Revue that's brand new every Thursday night at 11 p.m. at Feinstein's at Loew's Regency. Scott's the taller half of the husband/wife writing/producing/hosting team known as Siegal Entertainment, who have presented many events that give Broadway stars the time and space to shine individually as who they actually are rather than as someone they may have portrayed.
The Broadway Ballyhoo, his current, casual weekly presentation at Feinstein's, is a late-night, theatrical preview, similar to Cineplex Coming Attractions, of what's going on in New York during the coming week that you should, but may not, know about. I'd wanted to check out Broadway Ballyhoo for several weeks, but my need for sleep usually interfered. After having really enjoyed last Thursday night's program, I have decided that sleep may be over-rated. No two Ballyhoos are the same. Each one is unique. New Stars! New Songs! A New Musical Stew! And if the show deviates from the recipe, not to worry. The final dish is often even better than what you anticipated.
For instance, last Thursday night Johnny Carson's favorite chanteuse, Marilyn Maye, performing again after her early show in which she co-stars with Michael Feinstein, had planned to be the last performer on Broadway Ballyhoo, but Ted Firth, her pianist, had to leave early so she opened instead with an up-tempo medley followed by a lush version of the Jersey Boys hit, I Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You. I truly believe that the supposedly 84-year-old Marilyn is in her late '30s, but must have been taught by one of the legendary Westmore Brothers to apply make-up so skillfully that she appears somewhat older. Whatever. She was her usual spectacular, stupendous diamond-dazzling self -- great young voice, great charm, great outfit and more energy than a bundle of monkeys. She acted surprised when she noticed co-star Michael Feinstein himself sitting at a corner table, and admitted, "I didn't want you know I was moonlighting."
Next, right off the bus from Canada, the comedian/vocalist Michael Hughes, post 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and London's Leicester Square Theatre detours, sang "Maria" in a strong clear tenor. "Maria" was the same song he'd performed at his first audition, which had rewarded him with his first callback and then garnered for him his first rejection. Michael makes his New York debut at the Duplex Cabaret Theatre September 10th, 15th and 20th performing Mickey and Judy, a musical memoir "about a little boy named Mickey who wanted to grow up to be Judy Garland but settled for Michael Hughes."
Dion Millington, the acclaimed Effie of the current Harlem Repertory Theater's chamber production of Dreamgirls admitted that she was a little nervous and a little intoxicated, but sounded like a musical powerhouse singing, I Am Changing, before stepping down from the stage without giving us the song we were expecting.
Celebrated jazz vocalist, LaTanya Hall, added two impressive ballads followed by 18-year-old Alex Getlin -- a recent La Guardia High School for the Performing Arts grad on her way to Northwestern University after starring in her own show at Feinstein's (with Michael as her guest) -- sang an uncharacteristically moody Kander and Ebb melody, "Sometimes a Day Goes By," in rich, mellow tones. My companion awarded Alex his best of show plaudits.
Ballyhoo was running a bit short, so Scott prevailed upon Michael Feinstein to help give us our hour's worth. Feinstein jumped up on stage, asked what he should sing and a few suggestions later, was accompanying himself on "I Won't Send Roses" with such edgy beauty and pathos that it tore my heart out.
The next-to-last surprise? Exactly what we all were waiting for. The return of Dion Millington, who belted out "And I am Telling You that I'm not going!" for a wow finale.
The unexpected final surprise was simply delicious. At midnight, Michael Feinstein's birthday arrived. We all sang happy birthday to him and dug into slices of a wonderfully creamy, frosted, moist red velvet layer cake.
As a result of the performers I saw and heard, I bought tickets for the following night's Marilyn and Michael's performance at Feinstein's; I plan to see Harlem Repertory Theater's Dreamgirls; and I'll probably stop at the Duplex to hear what Michael Hughes makes of Mickey and Judy as well.
Per Scott: "The star power that we're getting every week at The Ballyhoo, both on stage and in the audience, is really putting this show on the map." Best of all, it's a bargain. Non-premium seats are priced at a mere $15 if booked in advance. What's the difference between premium and non-premium seats? $10 and about 20 feet. As for the additional one drink minimum, stick to a $6 beer. The champagne is already on stage.