The Town Hall in Manhattan will celebrate
our town on May 3, with an extravaganza called "From Brooklyn
The musical revue, written and produced by Scott Siegel and directed by Noah Racey, will be hosted by Broadway star Tovah Feldshuh and feature a cast of award-winning Broadway and cabaret performers paying tribute to the Hollywood melodies, songwriters and stars that make us proud to be Brooklynites.
Siegel, whose "Broadway by the Year" series at Town Hall is now in its fourth season, told GO Brooklyn, "We were looking for something that would draw on the same interest [each of the ’Broadway by the Year’ concerts features songs introduced on Broadway during a specific year] but was also different. We decided to go to the movies instead of Broadway, and we decided to use Brooklyn as a hook."
There are several ways the songs chosen by Siegel connect to Brooklyn.
Like Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn’s "Time After Time," and "It’s Got to Come from the Heart" - both from "It Happened in Brooklyn" (1947) - some of the songs were originally in movies about the borough. Other such films include "Saturday Night Fever" (1977), which has more songs than many musicals, thanks to the Bee Gees; "The Kid from Brooklyn," a 1946 MGM film starring Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo and Eve Arden; and "Cowboy from Brooklyn," a 1938 film that featured Ronald Reagan as Pat Dunn, with music composed by Harry Warren with lyrics by Johnny Mercer.
Some of the songs were written for films by Brooklyn composers like Neil Diamond ("The Jazz Singer"), Harry Nilsson ("Midnight Cowboy") and Alan Bergman ("Tootsie").
Other songs were sung by famous Brooklynites like Barbra Streisand ("Funny Girl," "On a Clear Day"), a 26-year-old Lena Horne ("Stormy Weather") and Kaye. The 1952 Kaye vehicle, "Hans Christian Andersen," introduced songs such as "Inchworm," "Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen" and "Ugly Duckling."
"There’s nothing pretentious about the show," says Siegel. "It’s fun, not educational. It’s all about the music connecting to the attitude. We have a lot of brassy performers." All of these vocalists will be backed by a three-piece band - piano, bass and drums.
Many of the performers in "From Brooklyn to Hollywood" also hail from Brooklyn.
"Alix Korey [the recent ’Listen to My Heart’ star] was born in Brooklyn and sounds like it," says Siegel. "And Annie Golden [’The Full Monty’] still lives in Brooklyn."
There are also lots of people who are "Brooklynesque" but don’t come from Brooklyn, like cabaret star Mark Nadler, who actually comes from Iowa, Siegel said.
And, of course, there are plenty of non-Brooklyn, but otherwise accomplished, performers. Feldshuh stars on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre, playing the role of Prime Minister Golda Meir in William Gibson’s "Golda’s Balcony," a role that won her the Drama Desk award for best solo performer and the Lucile Lortel award for best actress off-Broadway. She also played Jessica Stein’s mother, Judy Stein, in the film "Kissing Jessica Stein."
Stephen Bogardus was nominated for a Tony for his work in "Love! Valor! Compassion!" And Noah Racey starred in the Broadway show "Never Gonna Dance" about the dance team Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Siegel himself is a pop culture critic who covers film, theater and cabaret in print and on the radio and Internet. With his wife, Barbara, he has authored "The Encyclopedia of Hollywood" (Facts on File, 1990) and more than half a dozen celebrity biographies, including books on Jack Nicholson and Jim Carey.
"Whenever you meet a New Yorker, it seems they were born in either the Bronx or Brooklyn," says Siegel. "The Bronx has no cachet. Brooklyn has a personality, while the rest of the boroughs don’t. There’s nothing more New York than Brooklyn."
"From Brooklyn to Hollywood" will be performed May 3 at 8 pm. Tickets are $35 and $30. Town Hall is located at 123 West 43 St. between Sixth Avenue and Broadway in Manhattan. For tickets, call Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100 or The Town Hall Box Office at (212) 840-2824.