True Broadway Babies: Broadway at the Box 2018

Photo courtesy of The Music Box Theatre

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A group born for the stage.
Photo courtesy of The Music Box Theatre

The Fab 5 who rule over the Music Box Theater are consummate entertainers. They sing, act, even dance a bit. Their sparkling revues, now in the Box's seventh year, are refreshing, intimate shows that show off their prodigious talents, their warm camaraderie among each other and with the audience, and their showbiz chops. They love to perform and it shows. It's just that much extra pleasure for us that they're so damned good at it.

The five (Rebekah Dahl, Brad Scarborough, Kristina Sullivan, Cay Taylor, and Luke Wrobel), all alumni of the fabled Masquerade Theatre, are born for the stage. Over the seasons, the Music Box has presented shows featuring the Beatles during Christmas, rock, TV anthems, country-western, the Great American Songbook, Motown, standards about New York City, hippie favorites from the '60s, travel songs from around the U.S., iconic Texas singers and composers, and other genre-bending amalgams. Sometimes, there's a storyline, sometimes not, just a skit or two or an adlib to knit the songs together. In any genre these five shine, but they are true Broadway Babies. For all their dexterity, they're most at home on the Great White Way. It's in their blood.

At least once a season they do a Broadway tribute, and Broadway at the Box 2018 is the latest incarnation. What a godsend this it. Their latest show only goes to prove that nothing is more effective than a singing actor at the top of his/her game, standing in the spotlight, gleaming like a klieg light, and putting across a song. It looks so effortless, and sounds so right.

Each gets to gleam in their own way. Scarborough, with clarion tenor and matinee idol looks, relishes Sir Lancelot's braggadocio in “C'est Moi” from Camelot. Dahl, with powerhouse voice and comedic timing of Lucille Ball at her pinnacle, wails through the Dreamgirls classic “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going.” Taylor, with vixen sensuality, purrs through Rogers and Hart's standard “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” from Pal Joey. Sullivan, with crystal-pure soprano, deeply etches the poignant “To Build a Home” from The Bridges of Madison County; while Wrobel, with that intense rolling baritone, swings marvelously through “Trouble,” from The Music Man. There are selections from failed shows like Sondheim's Anyone Can Whistle, that lasted a resounding nine performances, and even a shout-out to a show not yet produced, Sam Carner and Derek Gregor's Cupid, from the team that brought the Houston premiere Unlock'd to Queensbury Theatre last month. Two recent phenoms on Broadway, Hamilton and Dear, Evan Hansen, receive splendid treatment by Scarborough as mad King George in “You'll Be Back” and the rousing “You Will be Found,” sung by the entire quintet as the revue's uplifting closing number.

But there's plenty of classic Broadway to savor, too: selections from Miss Saigon, Fiddler on the Roof, Chicago, Oklahoma, La Cage aux Folles, West Side Story, and a frantic send-up of Beauty and The Beast reprised in seven minutes. Ably abetted by Glenn Sharp (keyboard), Mark McCain (guitar), Long Le (bass), and James Metcalfe (percussion), whose jazzy orchestrations perk up the best of the best, the wonders that are Broadway's own are first and foremost. The Fab 5 see to that. Do they ever.

Broadway at the Box 2018 continues at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through April 21 at Music Box Theater, 2623 Colquitt. For information, call 713-522-7722 or visit $29 - $39.

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D.L. Groover has contributed to countless reputable publications including the Houston Press since 2003. His theater criticism has earned him a national award from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) as well as three statewide Lone Star Press Awards for the same. He's co-author of the irreverent appreciation, Skeletons from the Opera Closet (St. Martin's Press), now in its fourth printing.
Contact: D. L. Groover