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

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Broadway in Bryant Park 2012: Rebecca, Sistas: The Musical, Chicago, Rent, Evita, & Newsies – August 9, 2012

For the penultimate 2012 Broadway in Bryant Park lunchtime concert, the apparent theme for the afternoon was one word titled musicals (discounting the usually ever-present “The Musical” descriptor) with grand showstoppers and loyal and vocal fan bases: Rebecca, Sistas: The Musical, Chicago, Rent, Evita, and Newsies. I arrived at Bryant Park that morning at my usual time and sat in my usual seat, and like the previous week, the weather was warm and sunny, but it wasn’t to be exactly as usual. Not too long after I settled into my seat, I was politely informed by one of the event volunteers that the row in which I usually sat (front center, on the lawn behind the gravel path where the press sat) as well as the rows to the left and right was to be reserved for VIPs. It was the first time this has happened (at least to me), so I moved to the second row on the left side, which was still a good view of the stage, albeit a smidge to the left. As always, the seats filled up quickly, with some opting to stay in the shade until the performance began. The 106.7 Lite FM host was Victor Sosa.

106.7 Lite FM host Victor Sosa

First to perform was the upcoming Rebecca, which starts its preview performances on October 30, 2012 at the Broadhurst Theatre, and is based on the book of the same name (from which the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film was also based) by Daphne du Maurier. Stars Ryan Silverman, Jill Paice, and understudy Maree Johnson were on hand to perform four songs: Jill Paice sang “Free Now”, Maree Johnson sang “She’s Invincible” Paice and Ryan Silverman sang “Help Me Through the Night” and all three sang the title song “Rebecca”. I must say I am looking forward to seeing this show (and hoping it succeeds), which was originally produced and performed in Vienna (and in German) – the songs were grand, sweeping arias befitting the grandeur of the source material.

From left to right: Jill Paice, Maree Johnson & Ryan Silverman

Next to perform was Sistas: The Musical, an off-Broadway show about a multi-generational African-American family, currently playing at St. Luke’s Theatre, and was a “Broadway Bite” (though technically speaking the show is running off-Broadway) with the cast Tracey Conyer Lee, Lexi Rhoades, April Nixon, Jennifer Fouché and Amy Goldberger singing a pair of songs; I wish I could recall the first song they sang, but the second song was the oft-used family oriented anthem “We Are Family”, to which the cast encouraged the crowd to sing along (most did).

Cast of Sistas The Musical: Tracey Conyer Lee, Lexi Rhoades, April Nixon, Jennifer Fouché and Amy Goldberger

Next was Chicago, which is currently the longest running revival, playing at the Ambassador Theater, and is (as stated at the very start of the show) “a story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery – all those things we all hold near and dear to our hearts”. The cast members on hand were Donna Marie Asbury, Dylis Croman, Cristy Candler, Tonya Wathen, Tony Yazbeck, Peter Nelson, Amos Wolff and Denny Paschall; the songs that were sung were “All That Jazz”, sung by Donna Marie Asbury, “Roxie” sung by Dylis Croman, “All I Care About”, sung by Tony Yazbeck, and “My Baby and Me”, sung by Dylis Croman, all performed with the classic Bob Fosse choreography.

Clockwise from top left: Donna Marie Asbury, Tony Yazbeck & Dylis Croman

Next up was Rent, the off-Broadway incarnation of the modern adaptation of La Bohème playing at New World Stages until September 9, 2012. Cast members Anthony Federov, Sean Michael Murray, Emma Hunton, and Shaleah Adkisson were on hand to sing three songs: Anthony Federov sang “One Song Glory”, Federov was joined by Sean Michael Murray to sing “What You Own” and Emma Hunton, and Shaleah Adkisson sang “Take Me Or Leave Me”.

Clockwise from top left: Anthony Federov, Sean Michael Murray, Emma Hunton, & Shaleah Adkisson

Next was Evita, currently playing at the Marquis Theatre and tells the life story of Eva Peron, the former first lady of Argentina. Stars Christina DeCicco, Max von Essen and Rachel Potter were on hand to sing a trio of songs: Christina DeCicco sang “Buenos Aires”, Rachel Potter sang “Another Suitcase in Another Hall”, and Max von Essen and Christina DeCicco sang “High Flying, Adored”.

Left to right: Christina DeCicco,Rachel Potter & Max von Essen

The final performance of the afternoon was from Newsies, based on the Disney film of the same name, currently playing at the Nederlander Theater based on a true story about the trials and tribulations of teenage newspaper sellers at the turn of the 20th century. This was the show that had the most vocal fans present at the park, and presumably the reason for the increase in reserved seating. Cast members Corey Cott, Kara Lindsay, and Julie Foldesi were on hand to sing three songs: Julie Foldesi sang “That’s Rich”, Corey Cott and Kara Lindsay sang ‘Something to Believe In” and Corey Cott sang “Santa Fe”.

Left to right: Julie Foldesi, Corey Cott & Kara Lindsay & Corey Cott

 

Again, despite the warmer than usual yet typical August weather, it was  an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.