Cabaret Review: The Lost Songs of Broadway 1960s at Signature Theatre

Madeline Botteri, Carolyn Cole, Jake Odmark, and Matt Pearson in ‘The Lost Songs of Broadway 1960s’ at Signature Theatre.

Musical theatre geeks unite! It’s time for another addition of Signature Theatre’s annual Lost Songs cabaret series, which this year is featuring the 1960s. The 60s had such hit shows as Hello Dolly, Mame, Funny Girl and Bye Bye Birdie. It also had such “gems” as Hot Spot, Henry, Sweet Henry and of course the first musical to close in one night Kelly.

As we all know I am a huge fan of director Matthew Gardiner’s work at Signature, and one reason is because he always puts together an interesting and different song list for Signature’s cabarets. For Lost Songs of Broadway 1960s, Gardiner has mixed the likes of Charles Strouse, Jerry Herman and Bock and Harnick plus others all together to make a very enjoyable evening. With four talented singers backed by Howard Breitbart on piano we are taken back to a time when Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury, and Sammy Davis Jr. were all starring in Broadway shows.

Just because the shows did not survive does not mean these songs do not deserve to be heard.

A few highlights from the evening include Madeline Bottari performing a song cut from Fiddler on The Roof called “Dear Sweet Sewing Machine.” For any number of reasons this song was dropped after the third preview in Detroit. One reason might have been that Fiddler on The Roof out of town ran almost four hours. It was also great to hear Bottari perform a song from Hot Spot, Judy Holliday’s last Broadway musical called “Don’t Laugh.”  Bottari is a young lady you will be seeing a lot of I hope. Her energy is always a good thing on stage.

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Carolyn Cole (Tracy Turnblad from Signature’s Hairspray) puts over “You’ve Got Possibilities” from It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman with her trademark big sound and then shows us her gentler side with “Lorna’s Here” from Golden Boy. These two songs show off Cole’s versatility as a performer.

Speaking of ‘Golden Boy,’ Matt Pearson performs the songs “Night Song” and “I Wanna Be With you” with great emotion, similar to what Sammy Davis Jr. did in the original version. His voice is just lovely.  If ever there was a show ripe for a Signature revival, Golden Boy might be the one. Pearson also has the “honor’ of performing the only good song from the musical Kelly which was about Steve Brody’s famous jump off of the Brooklyn Bridge. The song was called (wait for it) “Ode to The Brooklyn Bridge.” Any singer that gets saddled with singing those lyrics gets extra points from me.

Last but not least, Jake Odmark with a nice tenor sound delivers the beautiful “I’ve Never Said I Love You” from Dear World. This is a beautiful song from a show that never should have been written by Jerry Herman. His songs are great, but Jerry Herman musicalizing The Madwoman of Challiot proved to be a mistake, even with Angela Lansbury starring.

The evening also features songs from the 3 act Bock/Harnick musical The Apple Tree as well as songs cut from Mame, Cabaret and A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to The Forum.

I wish to thank Gardiner and company for once again appealing to all of us musical theatre aficionados. While the audience is going “Wow what a neat song,” we are going “Yep, where have you been?” Just because the shows did not survive does not mean these songs do not deserve to be heard. As usual, Signature Theatre is providing the public a great service.

Running Time: 65 minutes with no intermission

The Lost Songs of Broadway- 1960s plays through June 30, 2012 at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Avenue in Arlington, VA. For tickets, call the box office at 703-820-9771 or purchase them online.

About Elliot Lanes

Elliot Lanes has been a professional stage manager/sound designer/board op for over 20 years. After relocating to Washington, DC from the New York City area and marrying the girl of his dreams Jennifer Perry, he has been privileged to work on productions at Theatre J, Synetic, Prince George's Community College and Studio Theater to name a few. He has contributed designs for many shows in the last three Capital Fringe Festivals, two of which garnered critical raves. He is also the creator of MD Theatre Guide's highly successful 'A Quick 5' column.