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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

'Broadway Today!' Delights at Wilson Center

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The Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts continued its diverse offering of performances by touring and regional groups with last Saturday's “Broadway Today!,” a show that deserved more than a single performance. The show's lackluster title encompassed an invigorating, smartly assembled collection of famous Broadway numbers, fortunately not limited to the most recent ventures dominating the Great White Way. A seasoned group of four versatile performers provided familiar solo show tunes, often merged together seamlessly into vocal trios backed by a modest three-man accompaniment. There were catchy tunes from Jersey Boys, Wicked and Billy Elliot, as well as timeless selections from West Side Story, South Pacific, Phantom and Hair that carried nostalgia a bit further, at least for the older audience.

There was nothing subdued or overly sentimental about this evening's approach. In the best hell-bent-for-leather Broadway tradition, numbers were belted out full throttle in an aggressive, show-biz manner by an enthusiastic cast. The audience was constantly delighted. This high-volume approach, however, tended to blur the more tender lyrics. Jason Graae did a Joel Grey shtick that usually worked well. Lisa Howard and sweet-voiced Julia Murney handled the romantic bits nicely, and hunky young David Burnham (equipped with an appealing, sweet tenor voice) almost stopped the show, wandering into the audience singing a Frankie Valli favorite, much to the delight of the ladies.