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Broadway at its best

by on May 6, 2010
(reposted from http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com)

Music: Production features 50 of the greatest characters, older songs and recent hits

BRUCE BARTLETT
Telegraph-Journal

A show with some of the greatest musical stars of Broadway is making its Canadian debut in New Brunswick.

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100 Years of Broadway has played all over the world, but never been to Canada, said Neil Berg, the composer/lyricist who put the show together.

“What makes this the number one show on the Broadway tour is that these are actors from some of the most famous shows in Broadway history,” he said.

The show features 50 of the greatest characters in Broadway musical history and five singers who played many of the roles. They will perform at The Playhouse in Fredericton on Friday, the Imperial Theatre on Saturday and the Capitol Theatre in Moncton on Sunday.

To round out the evening, the show takes a look at the history of Broadway, bringing back some of the older songs, alongside the more recent hits.

The cast includes Rita Harvey, who played the lead role of Christine Daaé in the Phantom of the Opera for five years. Carter Calvert, who starred in Cats and received a Tony Award nomination when she starred in It Ain’t Nothing But the Blues, is also part of the tour.

She will perform pieces from other famous shows such as Chicago, he said.

The cast also includes Danny Zolli, who played several roles in more performances of Jesus Christ Superstar than anybody else. He will perform songs from that show as well as put his great rock tenor voice to other well known pieces.

Grant Norman, who starred in Phantom of the Opera for two years on Broadway, as well as in London as part of the tour, is in the show. During his time with Phantom he played both male leads – Raul and the Phantom. He also starred in Beauty and the Beast and Miss Saigon.

“If you like Broadway this is like a rock concert for the Broadway crowd,” Berg said.

The songs in 100 Years of Broadway are connected together by the actors who recount personal anecdotes and behind the scenes stories about their times in the shows.

As an example, Norman tells how the song If I Can’t Love Her, the closing number for Act 1 of Beauty and the Beast, came to be in the Broadway show. In the movie, the Beast doesn’t sing.

Calvert tells of her beginnings in New York, arriving from Cincinnati with no money and how she got her role in Cats.

Berg created this show about 15 years ago, when it was first performed for fundraisers and private functions. For the past five years it has been on the road as part of the Broadway National tour.

It’s a perfect show for all generations because it provides a great experience for those who love the genre but also gives a lot of background for those who aren’t that familiar with the songs, he said.

“It’s like a history lesson in Broadway, yet in the most entertaining way,” he said.

Berg is often with the show, onstage, playing the piano. But he recently wrote the music for the Broadway version for Grumpy Old Men and will be in rehearsal during the New Brunswick part of the tour.

‘Neil Berg’s 100 Years of Broadway’ is at The Playhouse in Fredericton on Friday at 7 p.m. Tickets, $30 to $45, are available at the box office, http://www.theplayhouse.nb.ca, 458-8344.

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