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Broadway By The Year
By Leslie Rosenberg

Times Square in the 1930s.
What do you get when you mix timeless Broadway melodies with a dash of musical history and narrative schtick? The answer is Broadway By the Year, a witty, educational, lyrical series celebrating its second season at New York City's Town Hall.

Created, written and hosted by author/critic Scott Siegel, Broadway By the Year takes listeners on a journey back in time, when the Great White Way was in its heyday. Each segment of the four-part series focuses on a single year in musical history, as stars perform songs both beloved and unknown from Broadway's archives.

Playbill art from the early days of Broadway.
This season's opener on March 18th focused on the year 1933 and included songs from the shows As Thousands Cheer (Irving Berlin), Let 'Em Eat Cake (The Gershwins), Pardon My English (The Gershwins), Roberta (Jerome Kern), Melody (Sigmund Romberg), and The Three Penny Opera (Brecht/Weill), among others. Broadway veterans Mary Testa, George Dvorsky, Mary Bond Davis, Anne Runolfsson and Mark Coffin delivered each song with a heartfelt appreciation for the material, uplifted by musical director/arranger/pianist Ross Patterson and The Ross Paterson Little Big Band. In between numbers, Siegel educated his audience with amusing anecdotes about the circumstances that led to in a song's creation, and perhaps the reasons it felt into obscurity.

   George and Ira Gershwin
Broadway by the Year is a treat for theater buffs and musical novices alike. You'll walk away brimming with trivia (did you know that Jerome Kern originally wrote "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" as an uptempo march, before lyricist Otto Harbach suggested he turn it into a ballad?), and you'll be tapping your toes all the way home.

Broadway by the Year celebrates the songs of 1940 on April 15 at 8 pm. On the repertoire are selections from Pal Joey (Rodgers & Hart), Louisiana Purchase (Irving Berlin), Cabin in the Sky (Vernon Duke), Panama Hattie (Cole Porter), and Walk with Music (Burton Lane/Johnny Mercer), plus many more. Tickets are available for $30-$35 at The Town Hall Box Office, 212-840-2824, or through TicketMaster, 212-307-4100.

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