Strollin' down the Great White Way with 'Broadway By The Year'

Courtesy photoCurtains up: Jeffry Denman is among the performers

As the holidays approach, many look back on the year about to end and recall highlights — and perhaps lessons learned.

New York producer Scott Siegel’s eye on the Great White Way gazes further back in his “Broadway By The Year” series.

A production exploring musicals from 1947 and 1966, the closing offering of Broadway By the Bay’s 46th season, is onstage at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City this weekend.

The series, which has been running at New York’s Town Hall since 2005, takes a calendar year out of the Broadway history book and examines the hits and the misses, especially when the latter generated a hit song or two.

“When we bring it out of Town Hall,” says Siegel, “which we’ve only done on rare occasions, we take two years and condense them into a first and second act.”

It’s a streamlining that, as he puts it, “allows us to do more of the greatest hits from each of the years so the audience in getting more of the famous songs.”

According to Siegel, picking two years also allows for the presentation of different eras and diverse styles of music.

For example, 1947 marked the beginning of the Cold War. Queen Elizabeth — then still Princess Elizabeth — married Prince Philip, and Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The lights of Broadway flashed the titles “Brigadoon,” “Finian’s Rainbow” and “Bloomer Girl,” among others.

A couple decades later, while San Francisco was gearing up for the Summer of Love, shows such as “Cabaret” and “Mame” bowed in 1966 and started on the road to becoming Broadway classics.

Siegel serves as the evening’s emcee, setting up selections sung by Broadway performers Christina Bianco, Ron Bohmer, Carole Bufford, Scott Coulter and Jeffry Denman.

Roughly 40 years between 1921 and 1997 have received the Siegel treatment; he says there are no bad years to be avoided.

“The way I pick the years is to look for one or two shows that are pretty famous as a kind of anchor,” he says. “Then I build out from that with shows that may be lesser known, but have great songs in them.”

He includes only musicals that are original to the year being covered in the show, so “Chicago” would be part of 1975 — not 1996, when the still-running revival opened.

“It’s always a little bit of a puzzle,” Siegel says. “You want the best songs, you want the songs that fit the talent, and you want songs that have any kind of relevance in terms of their emotional content and will be something that an audience will respond to.”

 

IF YOU GO

Broadway By The Year — 1947 and 1966

Presented by Broadway By the Bay

Where: Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway, Redwood City
When: 8 p.m. today-Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 1:30 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $22 to $48
Contact: (650) 579-5565, www.broadwaybythebay.org

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