Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Broadway Recycled at Joe's Pub

Now in its second year, The Broadway Recycled concert at Joe's Pub, presented by At Hand Theatre Company and Broadway Green Alliance, is quickly becoming one of my favorite annual theater events. As you may have guessed from the name, it's an evening of cut songs from Broadway musicals. Usually, these songs were cut for good reason, but where else would you have the opportunity to hear a song like "Washing the World," written as a finale to Hair, during which the cast would wash the audience with sponges and eventually make their way into the streets?

Directed by Jennifer Ashley Tepper, the concert balanced songs from new and classic musicals as performed by a mix of Broadway regulars, up-and-comers, and composers and backed by Julie McBride (piano, music direction), John Davis (drums), Larry Corban (guitar), and Ken Dow (bass). Some numbers were written for characters who were cut from the show entirely. According to the program notes, The Agent was originally intended to be the emcee of Chicago, but the creatives cut him when they realized his function was too similar to Matron Mama Morton's. Though it's obvious they made the right decision, "Ten Percent" was a hilarious showcase for Jeff Hiller at last night's show.

A character that is mentioned but never seen in RENT is Alison (Muffy), Benny's wife, but she did appear in the 1994 workshop. Adam Kantor, Sean Bradford, and Tracy McDowell (as Alison) sang "Real Estate" from that workshop, allowing the audience get a glimpse of the progression from a workshop to the musical we know today.

Not all songs are cut because they are bad. Jason Robert Brown never wanted to lose "Being a Geek" from 13. The song was in the Los Angeles production, but when the show came to Broadway, the powers that be put in an intermission and cut the song because it was too much of a downer. Eventually, the intermission went back out but the song didn't make it's way back into it the show (though from now on it will be included in all productions). Hearing Brown speak about the process shed a little light into why 13 was in some ways doomed from the start. Plus, there's something special about hearing a composer sing his own work. Brown only appeared at the 7 p.m. concert and Joe Iconis took his place at the 9:30. Michael Friedman was supposed to sing a cut song from Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, but he was mysteriously absent. I'm not sure if he attended the 9:30 or not, but I was really looking forward to hearing him perform. That was the only flaw in the evening.

Another highlight was "Comet On Its Way," performed by the male characters in Spring Awakening and later replaced with the show-stopper "The Bitch of Living." Again, ultimately, the creators made the right choice, but "Comet On Its Way" is lovely and it's a shame it had to go. I filmed Andy Mientus, Matt Shingledecker, and Taylor Trensch (with Freddy Hall on guitar) performing the number, but unfortunately, my camera cut off before it finished. Update: here is a link to a video of the full song.

Here's the complete set list:
1. I Said It And I'm Glad (Subways Are For Sleeping)- Kate Pazakis

2. That's The Show Biz (Ragtime)- Jessica Lee Goldyn, Bryan Knowlton

3. Real Estate (Rent)- Adam Kantor, Sean Bradford, Tracy McDowell

4. Being A Geek (13)- Jason Robert Brown

5. Travelin' Light (Guys and Dolls)- A.J. Shively

6. She's Gone (Side Show)- Natalie Joy Johnson

7. Ten Percent (Chicago)- Jeff Hiller

8. Comet On Its Way (Spring Awakening)- Andy Mientus, Matt Shingledecker, Taylor Trensch, with Freddy Hall

9. Play Game (Tick Tick Boom)- Lance Rubin

10. Spread A Little Joy (Betty Boop)- Liz Larsen

11. Tenterfield Saddler (Boy From Oz)- Kevin Michael Murphy

12. Proud Lady (Baker's Wife)- Andy Karl

13. Washing The World (Hair)- Andrew Kober, Kate Rockwell

14. Play The Princess (Bloodsong of Love)- Katrina Rose Dideriksen, MK Lawson, Kate Pazakis, Tracy McDowell


carli said...

I hear that Michael Friedman will be performing at Broadway Recycled, Recycled.

Lauren said...

I saw this via twitter. I was at the concert last night too! And also, I'm a Syracuse alum as well! (TRF)

Jesse North said...

I love these theme concerts! They're great ideas. Like Broadway Backwards? So cool. Glad you went and had a good time—thanks for the report! Oh, and I liked the video :-)


Linda said...

Lauren, what's your Twitter handle? Did you enjoy the concert?

Lauren said...


Yes, I thought the concert was great!