Photo: Cafe Carlyle
Where in the world is Seth Rudetsky? Given the multi-talented singer-pianist-raconteur’s insanely busy schedule, the answer can be on the stage of Town Hall or on a cruise to Tahiti. However, the definitive answer for Mondays March 13 and April 3 is at the swanky Café Carlyle, where he will continue his residency devoted to great Broadway musicals.
While his specific programming is not announced far in advance, on March 13, Rudetsky is hoping to reprise the joyful salute to the legendary 1982 tuner “Dreamgirls,” which he presented on February 20. For fans of the show, as well as novices, the 90-minute show was both informative and highly entertaining.
Wisely, Rudetsky recruited three performers who each had their own history with “Dreamgirls”: Sharon Catherine Brown, Natalie Wachen, and Darius DeHaas. (A fourth performer, Lilli Cooper, was unable to join due to a last-minute conflict). Brown, a powerhouse singer with emotional and vocal heft, took on the duties of Effie White, the group’s jilted singer, and brought down the house with her incredible take on “And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going,” (which was preceded by the brilliant “fight scene” that sets up the showstopping number.)
Meanwhile, the entire cast (including Rudetsky) led their considerable talents to “Dreamgirls,” “Fake Your Way to the Top” and “Heavy Heavy,” all of which prominently showed off the gorgeous Wachen’s vocal prowess.
De Haas deserves brownie points for handling not only all three of the main male roles in the show – Curtis, C.C. and Jimmy “Thunder” Early – but also, at one point, Effie. His rendition of Effie’s stunning second-act ballad “I Am Changing,” was simply gorgeous, as was his heartfelt version of C.C.’s big number “Family” (made more poignant by the fact that his sister, singer Aisha De Haas, was in the audience.) And hearing De Haas and Wachen give their all to the gorgeous “When I First Saw You” reminded me how said I am that the song got cut in the film version.
As a bonus, Rudetsky – a font of information who rarely needs assistance in sharing anecdotes – recruited Broadway veteran Brenda Braxton, a member of the original company and the show’s dance captain, to appear and share her recollections of the production, most notably working with director Michael Bennett and choreographers Michael Peters and Bob Avian. It was inside information at its best!
Nights like this one are few and far between, so no matter what Rudetsky chooses for his next two outings, you won’t be disappointed if you put his dates on your calendar.
--Brian Scott Lipton