By the Year

Town Hall scores big with a revue of Broadway musicals of 1935

The latest of evenings featuring Broadway performances particular to a specific year considerably brightened Town Hall two weeks ago with a tribute to 1935.

Conceived by Scott Siegel, the overall series weaves together performances by Broadway and cabaret stars with information about the shows. It’s a lovely concept and a truly delightful evening.

The shows of 1935 were especially rich in music, though not in profits as Siegel pointed out in his narration. Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, George and Ira Gershwin, and many more introduced songs that year would become staples in the American songbook.

As performed by Laurie Williamson, “Summertime” was stunning. “Red Sails in the Sunset” performed by Emily Skinner and “Ain’t Necessarily So” performed by Darius de Haas were thrilling. Karen Akers performed a brilliant “Little Girl Blue,” and was as splendid as always.

One of the evening’s high points was that many of the songs were performed off-microphone, and in the over-amplified Broadway atmosphere, it was remarkable to hear the purity of the human voice and the power of performers like Skinner, Chuck Cooper, and Barbara Walsh to fill the vastness of Town Hall. The audience fell into a different kind of rapt silence, knowing to listen for every note. It was a splendid thing, as was the dancing by Noah Racey and Nancy Lemanger, who were so great in “Never Gonna’ Dance” earlier this year.

Siegel’s commentary was wry and entertaining,

and the whole evening was a delightful snapshot of Broadway at a different time. Delightfully, when Siegel began describing “Jumbo,” the huge circus musical of 1935, I heard a woman near me say, “I saw that.” It’s just that level of excitement and magic that Siegel and his crew have found in this concept.

For information on future evenings in this series, call 212 840 2824 or visit

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