Brady vs. Partridge: The Bardy Bunch at 54 Below – June 21, 2015

The Bradys and Partridges are movin’ on up…

Oh wait – wrong (classic) TV show.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, I’ve been a fan of The Bardy Bunch: The War of the Families Partridge and Brady, written by Stephen Garvey, since I saw the production four years ago in the Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa (located downtown in the East Village), during the New York International Fringe Festival. Since then, the show has undergone some (minor) script changes as it continues its trek uptown, having most recently played at the Theatre at St. Clement’s (located on 46th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue) last spring. The latest stop on its (hopefully inevitable) journey to the Great White Way reached 54 Below (located at 54th Street between 7th and 8th Avenue), where musical theatre performers perform intimate cabaret shows.

Bardy Bunch at 54 Below

The performance I attended was an encore presentation (the first show happened a month prior), and was more of a mini-concert than excerpts from the stage production. Yet the overall premise was similar: the Bradys and Partridges crossed paths due to an inadvertent double booking and took turns to win over the audience. Several of the iconic songs from The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family were sung, along with other notable ‘70s songs – fitting given the reputation of the venue. Some of the Shakespearean elements from the stage production were sprinkled throughout. Many of the cast remained the same from previous incarnations, and expertly used the intimacy of the venue to their advantage, weaving between the tables and interacting with the audience to their great amusement.

Bardy Bunch 54 Below

For more information about The Bardy Bunch: The War of the Families Partridge and Brady, please visit their website: thebardybunch.com.

Bardy Bunch cast list

Dance With Never A Care: An American in Paris CD signing at Barnes & Noble – June 12, 2015

So, it’s been a while since I attended a CD signing, or seen a show for that matter – but that has more to do with finances than lack of interest; there are so many shows (new and ongoing), yet not as much time to go see them all (and then there’s the exorbitant ticket prices…). Nevertheless, attending a CD signing is almost always within my budget, and more times than not, cast members perform songs from their show, which is always a draw.  As mentioned in past CD signing blog entries, I don’t/can’t always attend every CD signing Barnes & Noble, (and I’m grateful that Barnes & Noble is still around so events such as these can take place), I always make an effort to attend one in which I have an interest, which leads me to the recently released cast recording of An American in Paris. Along with the CD signing, the event included performances from the cast, held at the Barnes & Noble store on the Upper East Side (on 86th Street).

An American In Paris CD signing banner

Per usual, I arrived at that Barnes & Noble early to get the CD at the main register (though I had purchased the cast recording via iTunes before they announced the CD signing) and received my [silver] wristband to guarantee a seat inside the event. Also, per usual, I staked out my “usual” spot outside the event area to start the attendance line, listening to the cast recording on repeat on my iPod (other people started to arrive around noon, and the crowd steadily gathered afterwards). For events such as these, I often see the same bunch of people waiting in line, and struck up conversations with them while we all waited – it’s usually the only time I see these (same) people, and the camaraderie that emerges from these quasi-occasional events is special in its own way.

Cast members arrived roughly an hour before the event start [4:30PM] to conduct a sound check, and we were ushered into the room shortly before the event start. Barnes & Noble Event manager Steven Sorrentino greeted the crowd and introduced to the makeshift stage cast members Leanne Cope, Robert Fairchild, Max von Essen, Jill Paice, and Brandon Uranowitz. First, Robert Fairchild and Jill Paice sang “Shall We Dance?”, who were then joined by Leanne Cope and Max von Essen to sing “For You, For Me, For Evermore”, which segued to Brandon Uranowitz and Jill Paice singing an emotional “But Not For Me”. The performance section ended with Robert Fairchild, Max von Essen and Brandon Uranowitz singing (in three part harmony!) “‘S Wonderful”, all of which were greeted with great applause from the crowd.

Top row: Jill Paice & Robert Fairchild (Shall We Dance?), Leanne Cope & Max Von Essen (For You, For Me, For Evermore) Bottom row: Jill Paice & Brandon Uranowitz (But Not For Me), Robert Fairchild, Brandon Uranowitz & Max von Essen ('S Wonderful)

Top row: Jill Paice & Robert Fairchild (Shall We Dance?), Leanne Cope & Max Von Essen (For You, For Me, For Evermore) Bottom row: Jill Paice & Brandon Uranowitz (But Not For Me), Robert Fairchild, Brandon Uranowitz & Max von Essen (‘S Wonderful)

After the customary (mini) press photo session (at which the press photographers in attendance stood in front of the seated audience (I managed to snap a few photos during the portion of the event), the signing took place, wherein the aforementioned cast members sat at the table to sign the CDs (plus a few other memorabilia). They greeted and (sometimes) briefly chatted with the attendees, while the press photographers were taking photos of the proceedings. As there was a long line of people, and the knowledge that the cast members were time constrained (due to the fact that they’d need to be back at the theatre for their show that evening), I didn’t linger around (though I kinda wish I had).

From left to right: Robert Fairchild, Jill Paice, Brandon Uranowitz, Leanne Cope & Max von Essen

From left to right: Robert Fairchild, Jill Paice, Brandon Uranowitz, Leanne Cope & Max von Essen

Needless to say, An American in Paris is one of the new shows I need to see, with its lush Gershwin score, as well as its choreography and exquisite scenic and lighting design, (for which it won the 2015 Tony Award). Amid the jukebox musicals and the long running standards, it’s lovely to hear the music and lyrics from George and Ira Gershwin back on Broadway.

Actually, it’s more than lovely – ‘S Wonderful.

An American in Paris Signed CD booklet