Stage Pages March, 2004
by Sherry Braun
of the Broads: A
Sentimental Journey” Delivers Six New Stars
Productions at The Duplex
by Teresa Fischer
Direction by Brennan Johnson
by JoJo Bengel, Jenny Greeman and Teresa Fischer
cabaret world is best represented by acts which are charismatic,
musically adept, and often humorous and bone-chilling at the same
time. “Best of the
Broads: A Sentimental
Journey” is all of that and then some!
The program is made up of the best-loved songs of two acts
(and alternating casts), “Three Broads Singin’ To Beat the Blues” and “Three Broads Singin’ Naughty, Singin’ Nice.”
These shows have had successful romps at multiple venues
around New York, including Sage
Theatre (where the first show originated), Spotlight On Festivals (where Frank Calo nurtured it), and at the American
Theatre Wing Outreach Program (where the act turned pro).
five ladies and one man at the piano are Broadway bound.
I most recently caught them at The Duplex, where the best of
their technique sings forth and where the staging, patter and
physical antics play on stock types -- such as the young, the old,
the comic, the Broadway belt, the torch song, the love song.
Perhaps this group has never been in better shape than now.
entire company, accompanied by Brennan
Johnson, begins the evening with “Sentimental Journey” and a
Blues medley. The
arrangements are strong from the start, with the cast moving into
first full solo is by Bonita
Hanson, “Dieter’s Prayer.”
Very funny and easy to relate to in this Atkins Diet age.
Later, Bonita brought the house down with “Poisoning
Pigeons In The Park.” Picture
a perfectly groomed mother, or a respectable school principal,
surprising you with such a sinister deed!
genuflection to the first incarnation of the Broads (before they
turned naughty), all of them sing the “Good Girl Medley” and an
“Enchanted Evenings” section.
More scrumptious assurance in the musicianship.
The harmonies in the ensemble are met with star turns by all
of the broads, in turns during solos.
sensational with “It’s Oh So Quiet.”
Betty Ann Hunt is simply terrific with “Could I Leave You?” and
shows her best belt with ”Everybody’s Girl,” which is raunchy
and hysterical. JoJo Bengel wins us with “Still Hurting” and the hysterical
lesbian homage “An Old Fashioned Love Story”.
And Jenny Greeman starts
subtly and builds into a technically proficient climax in “If You
Hadn’t But You Did.”
of course, there is the homage to the naughty and nice girls, the
“Doo-Wop Damsels,” brandishing leather jackets and imaginary
the concise choreography and attention to detail becomes apparent
with “Always a Bridesmaid.”
This production is very polished. (Even sentimental props,
such as bridal bouquet, letters and photographs, create a strong
“You Don’t Own Me” trio is fabulous with Jenny, JoJo and
Teresa. The comedy in
this act is at its best because of the fierce commitment to the
feelings. What a joy to
see the ladies get into it with their bodies.
You can also see an example of this with the whole cast in
“Watching All the Pretty Young Men.”
Director Fischer maximizes having five women when she allows
for the crescendo at the same time the two broads at the piano join
the other three at the chairs downstage.
is rendered as a scene between a rigid therapist (Greeman) and a
singer prone to metaphor and poetry to describe her sexual
not only shows off her incredible singing voice but does a pretty
fine bit of acting as well. She
relishes this infectious section, and so does the audience.
Director Brennan Johnson surprises us sometimes as the girls try to
get him involved, or as he shouts out a lyric or a response.
He is just as pretty as he is talented, with his poker face!
of the Broads: A
Sentimental Journey” needs to be playing every night of the week,
healing and charming audiences.
It is perfect cabaret. These are sexy ladies, and a handsome
pianist, who make their touching, ribald and funny entertainment
enchantingly musical. Catch
the act at The Duplex,
(212) 255-5438. Or
inquire by calling Journey
Productions, (212) 249-1992.