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Paulanne Simmons

"Something Wonderful"… Is

"Something Wonderful: A Richard Rodgers Celebration in Song"
The Town Hall
123 West 43rd St
June 3, 2005
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons, June 3, 2005

"Something Wonderful." Cast photo.

There's certainly nothing unusual about a tribute to Richard Rodgers. Even before his death in 1979, the songs he wrote with his two collaborators, Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, had become mainstays in the American songbook. But there was definitely something special in the wit and warmth of "Something Wonderful: a Richard Rodgers Celebration in Song" at The Town Hall on June 3.

The musical revue was part of Town Halls' Not Just Jazz series. But the show was not just music.

It was Heather Mac Rae remembering the filming of "Oklahoma!" and "Carousel" - movies in which her father, Gordon Mac Rae, starred - and informing the audience that when Mac Rae sang "my little girl…" she was certain he was singing to her (of course, sister Meredith thought the same).

The show was also Mark Nadler sitting at the piano and playing "Shall We Dance" while his feet tap danced, or his delightful commentary on the sexiest moment in the history of musicals - when the King of Siam (whom Nadler gives a Spanish accent because the only accents he claimed he could reproduce were Spanish and Yiddish) puts his hand on Anna's waist.

And the show was also its penultimate number when all the performers - Nadler, Mac Rae, KT Sullivan and Craig Rubano - reminded the audience that Rodgers and Hammerstein's message in "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught" is just as meaningful today during the war in Iraq as it was after World War II.

Founded over 80 years ago by The League for Political Education, Town Hall represents something unique in New York City - a theater in the heart of the glitziest, most commercial theater district in the world that is dedicated to free speech, education, artistic excellent and the simple art of the song.

With nothing more than Nadler's piano accompaniment, evening dress and makeup, Nadler, Mac Rae, Rubano and Sullivan rocked the house with their sheer joy in singing. They mixed sentimentality and professionalism so smoothly that the performance seemed both artless and filled with art at the same time.

What an enchanting evening! [Simmons]

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