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298 Kinderkamack Road, Oradell, NJ 07649


Bergen County Players, inc.


«  »February 2024


BWW Review: A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING at The Little Firehouse Theater

BWW Review: A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING at The Little Firehouse Theater

The musical revue was staged by the Bergen County Players nearly 28 years after the original's 52-performance run at the Criterion Center Stage Right in NYC in 1993.

by Lianna Albrizio Dec. 19, 2021 

Twenty-eight years to nearly the day after Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's Broadway production of "A Grand Night for Singing" directed by Walter Bobbie and choreographed by Pamela Sousa with vocal arrangements by Fred Wells and orchestrations by Michael Gibon and Jonathan Tunick opened at Manhattan's the Criterion Center Stage Right, the Bergen County Players put on an equally delightful, awe-inspiring, humorous and heart-capturing performance of the same at the Little Firehouse Theater in Oradell in New York's backyard.

The BCP's adaption of the Tony Award nominated, two-act musical revue, which ran from Nov. 20 to Dec. 19, was directed by Alan Demovsky produced by Michele Roth and Steven Bell and choreographed by Steve Dougherty.

It was staged by eight brilliant actors: Larry Brustofski, Sarah Friedman, Katrina Michalewski, Robert Quiles, Elisabeth Erdmann, Nancy Feldman, Edward Van Saders and Cheryl Crabtree Woertz.

The Bergen County Players returned with a seamlessly flawless performance despite the musical being the theater's first return to live theater after a 20-month hiatus due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

In the musical, 33 love songs from Cinderella, to South Pacific, Carousel, Oklahoma!, Me and Juliet, The King and I, plus many others are couched to exhibit all the joys and pains of love in all its forms: from the pressures of striking while the iron is hot or risk losing their prospective date to someone else who will instead take them out for that first plate of French-fried potatoes and a T-bone steak, to the chagrin of choosing the wrong life partner ("Don't Marry Me" (Flower Drum Song) to knowing when to let them go, (Love Look Away" Flower Drum Song) to becoming enraptured by finding true love ("Impossible" Cinderella.)

Being that the holiday season is the biggest time of year for love and spreading joy, the staging of this delightful, uplifting musical was a fitting one. Naturally, it evoked adulation from an adoring audience, a number of whom were of the Baby Boom era and who rejoiced in the familiarity of many of the numbers which were plucked from legendary films.

Comprising actors of all age groups, "A Grand Night of Singing" begins with the Company joining hands atop a rotating platform belting out the namesake theme song. The men (or in this case, gentlemen) were in suits while the women wore their rendition of the little black dress. The performance captured the hearts of theater-goers with the first song. The musical elicits all the emotions fueling love - practical ("Love is a grand and beautiful thing"), funny ("I'm as corny as Kansas in August," nervousness ("I've got a lump in my throat when speaking of this wonderful guy"), and, not to mention, that cloud nine sensation one experiences when falling in love ("I'm high as a flag on the Fourth of July").

While the songs were warbled by a group of spunky, audacious cast - all of whom had beautiful voices and impressive singing ranges - backlit graphics including Van Gogh's "A Starry Night" and Edvard Munch's "The Scream" were projected while a live band, which comprised Conductor Steve Bell on piano, Betsy Maxwell on keyboard, Elizabeth Kelsey on cello, Richard Summers on reeds and Larry Silverman on percussion, provided the score.

While the musical revue empathizes with the cautions of falling in love too fast: "Crying my eyes out as if he belonged to me," it also cheers on the women who muster up the self-confidence to get over a man who mistreated her and re-instating her mojo: "I'm going to wash that man right out of my hair" all while admiring herself with a cheeky hair flip.

The musical aptly concluded with The King and I's "I Have Dreamed" with the cast reuniting on stage as a group. Sitting side-by-side, the cast demonstrated a shared understanding of each other's experience as a human being, their wish for love, and their long, loony, yet worthwhile journey to it.

For more information on Bergen County Players, please visit http://www.bcplayers.org/.

Photo Credit: Richard Frant


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