Pre-Tony's Broadway Tasting: Stars in the Alley

Even before I got to Schubert Alley, a tad late of course, the sounds were rocking Broadway. Audiences were treated to a free sampling of numbers from the best of the best accompanied by a terrific orchestra, before the performers, dressed in street clothes departed for their respective shows, just in time to gear up for the matinees. Bryce Pinkham from A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder was the first voice I heard, just the welcome I needed. Nominated for Best Actor in a Musical, he's up against his co-star Jefferson Mays; it'll be a tough choice for voters. The show is frontrunner for Best Musical. The superb Les Miz revival features Nikki M. James as Eponine; her solo had the crowd in thrall, even those who were chowing down inside Junior's.

Joshua Henry sang from Violet, and Brooks Ashmanskas and Helene Yorke danced and sang their "Let's Misbehave," a deliciously naughty number from Bullets Over Broadway; you could hear the taps even in theirsneakers. Phantom of the Opera's Norm Lewis had the whole event moving like clockwork, as they say; he's Porgy to me, from the fine revival of Porgy and Bess a few seasons ago. He seemed to be everyone's fan, introducing Lena Hall, Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, actors from Cinderella to Pippin to After Midnight, but he had a special something for Kelli O'Hara from the short-lived Bridges of Madison County. As Porgy, he was in the theater next to hers for Nice Work If You Can Get It. She is truly one of the great Broadway vocalists. The stars of Rock of Ages closed the set with "Don't Stop Believin'" from that long running show. The Broadway League was responsible for this program, with United Airlines among the sponsors. I'm told, they haven't had the event for seven years. Why? This show must go on!

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.