“Let’s talk, Queens!” urges Broadway insider Neil Berg. His popular musical revue has been updated and renamed. It’s now “103 Years of Broadway” and, as usual, it boasts “A-list” stars who sing the best tunes from the most successful shows.
The women, as usual, are elegantly attired in stunning gowns. The men wear suits. Clearly the audience is musically transported from the green gardens of Queens to the concrete canyons of Broadway. There’s little doubt that this latest presentation at Queens Theatre is a hit — thanks in part to the efforts of popular producer Gary Fuchs and JES Entertainment.
At Saturday afternoon’s performance, Berg charms the audience with his informative and down-to-earth anecdotes. He talks about nineteenth century jazz and includes George Gershwin’s influences, which date back to 1928. He explains how Rodgers and Hammerstein’s storylines are strongly influenced by the country’s emotional climate during World War II.
Rita Harvey, Berg’s wife, is once again an integral part of the show. She captivates the audience in a duet from “The Phantom of the Opera” with Richard Todd Adams. Rita also sings with Natalie Toro. Among their showstoppers are hits from “West Side Story” and “Wicked.” Toro’s solo from “Evita” is equally breathtaking.
Not to be outdone, Adams and Danny Zolli offer a dynamic duet from “Man of La Mancha.” Zolli also leads a powerful musical tribute to “Jersey Boys” with hits by the Four Seasons.
Jeannette Bayardelle, whose Broadway credits include “The Color Purple” and “Hair,” is dazzling with her solos from “Dream Girls” and the stirring “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.” Guest singer Jana Robbins, seated in the audience, is coaxed on stage for her sensational solo, “I’m Still Here.”
The spectacular vocals continue for two full acts. But there is still one more musical surprise — the audience enjoys real rock ‘n’ roll when Berg, the musicians (Roger Cohen on drums, Abraham Saenz on guitar) and Danny Zolli’s vocals provide a powerful tribute to Billy Joel. Incredible!
With more than 150 performances annually, each show is a polished, professional musical banquet. For information on Berg’s revue, surf to www.neilberg.com. For information on JES Entertainment’s evening with Art Garfunkel at Queens Theatre and their “Summer in the ‘60s” concert at Queensborough Community College, call 718-423-8394. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.