Yes, it’s happily that time again. Spring is here, and Houston’s evermore popular MUSIC BOX cabaret is presenting its 2018 edition of “Broadway at the Box.” This little troupe of five very talented players, and their equally talented 5-piece G-SHARP BAND led by Music Director, Glenn Sharp, has become such a favorite local club during these past seven years that it is no wonder the spot now tops the city’s listings at Trip Advisor. Part of the appeal is the family atmosphere surrounding these gifted performers (Rebekah Dahl, Brad Scarborough, Kristina Sullivan, Cay Taylor and Luke Wrobel) who began their association years ago as members of the long-running Masquerade Theatre at Houston’s Hobby Center. Their several shows each year are built around original themes, light sketch comedy, playful banter, and above all, exceptional vocal skill, with terrific support from the fine band rounding out the great music. The cozy club also offers beer, wine and light snacks.
The current show is the club’s popular annual salute to Broadway, and this year’s edition began with a powerful performance of “Tradition” by Mr. Wrobel, from the musical classic, Fiddler on the Roof. Following in those powerful footsteps, Scarborough regally delivered a proud and princely tribute to Camelot, and offered deliciously cocky arrogance as Sir Lancelot during his rendition of the amusing, “C’est Moi.” A beaming Kristina brought warm, thoughtful and ever-rising joy to the thrilling escalations of “I Am What I Am,” from La Cage Aux Folles. Miss Taylor brought a dreamy quality to the Pal Joey hit, “Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered.” She was beautifully accompanied by the gentle and rich tones of a solo from band guitarist, Mark McCain, which appeared to bewitch the grateful audience. Fearlessly working his way through that audience, Wrobel returned with a gruff, snappy and snarling, “(Ya Got) Trouble,” from The Music Man. It was so engaging I found myself wishing I could see him do the full production. Dahl and Taylor captured all the heartbreak, longing and rich counterpoints as they joined forces for an exquisite duet of the tender “I Still Believe,” from Miss Saigon. And now, — I kid you not — in an astonishing moment echoing the Broadway original, a helicopter really descends from the ceiling! In such an intimate house it has to be seen to be believed! Dressed in a glittering outfit of black and sequins, Dahl brought a sparkle of her own to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s, “Tell Me on a Sunday,” from the show Song & Dance. Her poignant performance of this song about the end of a relationship brought another real touch of theatre to the proceedings. Act One closed with another Music Box tradition, the annual 7-Minute Musical. This year’s choice, Beauty & the Beast, while not the most musically satisfying seven minutes in the show, was certainly frantic fun with zany costumes and frenzied short bits of each song from the original, while an onscreen clock ticks off the remaining time like some Olympic event.
Act Two was full of fun as well, beginning with the three gals performing a sassy, sexy and seductive, “Cell Block Tango,” from Chicago that had a sensational ferocity. Departing briefly from the usual well-known song selections, Wrobel and Scarborough offered an amusing tribute to good-ole-boy buddies with a song celebrating their, “Man Crush.” Taylor followed with tongue-twisting skill for the sometimes strident tune, “Everybody Says Don’t,” from Anyone Can Whistle. The cast provides an uproarious medley of songs that each of them “could never be cast for.” It includes bits from Jesus Christ Superstar, Dreamgirls, Singin’ in the Rain, and Oklahoma. And oh, don’t miss Brad’s falsetto for, “I Feel Pretty!” His flair for comedy surfaces again when performing the amusing, “You’ll Be Back” as King George III in the musical, Hamilton. My guess is that once you sample a show at The Music Box, you’ll be back as well.
BROADWAY AT THE BOX 2018 continues through April 21st at the Music Box Theater, 2623 Colquitt, Houston, Texas, with 7:30 p.m. performances on Fridays & Saturdays. There will be 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, April 8th. Reserved seating for all shows is $39 + tax, and General Admission is $29 + tax. For tickets and information call 713-522-7722 or visit the website at www.themusicboxtheater.com, where you can also find information about the upcoming show, Shake, Rattle and Roll (Songs of the 1950’s) beginning on April 28, 2018.
The columns of David Dow Bentley III may be viewed online at the website: www.ThePeoplesCritic.com E-mail may be directed to www.ThePeoplesCritic3@gmail.com