The 11th Season at the historic Cohoes Music Hall begins with a major production of Les Miserables on September 26 and finishes with Little Shop of Horrors which gives its last performance on May 18, 2014. Between these two popular productions are six other shows, two on the mainstage – including Forever Plaid’s Plaid Tidings and the oddly named but delightful spoof of all things musical, Urinetown.
In between these mainstage shows are those of C-R Kids which feature students from around the Capital Region. They perform Annie, Aida, Little Mermaid, Jr. and the challenging Sweeney Todd, School Edition.
Nicky Romaniello (l) as Captain Billy Buck Chandler and Erin West (r) as Edythe Herbert in My One and Only at Cohoes Music Hall. Photos by Marilyn Rose
Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray
GAIL BURNS: Well, Larry, My One and Only (MOAO) is one big, tap-happy treat at Cohoes. I had a bundle of fun!
LARRY MURRAY: There is both so much fun, and a sort of righteousness that goes with being able to make so much noise with your feet! What did you think when you first saw MOAO on the Cohoes schedule? Did the old theatre buff in you say: ”hooray and about time”?
GAIL: I was excited to have another chance to see this “all-new” Gershwin musical, which I’d seen on Broadway in 1983, with Tommy Tune and Twiggy in the leads. And I was surprised to realize it had taken me 30 years to have a second chance at it. I had very happy memories of my first encounter.
LARRY: Well so do I, Gail, I saw it in its pre-Broadway run in Boston and enjoyed it very much, but we saw very different shows.
Gail Burns: Looks like we pulled a theatrical double-header yesterday seeing two shows in one trip. And the first one, Five Guys Named Moe at the Cohoes Music Hall, was a musical I hadn’t seen before.
Larry Murray: The show is based on the pioneering music of Louis Jordan (1908-1975) who was known as The King of the Jukebox. While it doesn’t seem all that revolutionary today, it was the badass music of its day. It ruled its particular musical domain from the late 1930′s to the early 1950′s when rock and roll was supposedly “born.” Jordan could be considered a preemie of the genre, often topping what Billboard then called the “race” charts.
Gail: It is really sad that Louis Jordan’s recordings have fallen into semi-oblivion even after the success of this jukebox musical in London and New York in the early 1990′s. Part of the reason is undoubtedly racial. I recently enjoyed a fascinating biography of a contemporary of Jordan’s, Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973) on PBS (Click Here for Program). Like Jordan, Tharpe is credited with helping to birth rock and roll and I had never heard of her. I am pretty sure I would have grown up playing their records if they had been white.
Larry: My feet are still tapping out the great melodies from the swinging 1930′s and feeding off all that tremendous energy of five, no wait, six guys on stage. The video embedded at the very top of this page showcases the original Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five as they belt out the original song that is now the title of the show.
The show begins with just one guy on stage, Nomax (Ariel Padilla), who is down and blue over a breakup with his girlfriend, Lorraine. The raucous Five Guys Named Moe reveal themselves early on as the dissolute Nomax tries to cope with the pain of his breakup. The title song allows the quintet to introduce themselves to the audience as Big Moe (Daniel Belnavis), Little Moe (Avionace), No Moe (Sheldon Henry), Four-Eyes Moe (Daryl Stewart) and Eat Moe (Marc-Sally Saint-Fleur). They then get to work lifting Nomax’s spirits.
His woman left him, he’s broke, and it’s almost five o’clock in the mornin’. But don’t be worryin’ ’bout our hero, Nomax. Out of Nomax’s ’30s-style radio pop arise Five Guys Named Moe. They cajole, wheedle, comfort and jazz him with the whimsical hit songs of Louis Jordan one of the most beloved songwriting talents of the twentieth century.
The cast of Hello Dolly at the Cohoes Music Hall November 2-11, 2012.
Review by Gail Burns
Monica M. Wemitt was born to play Dolly Gallagher Levi, which is why, after two monthes of pain and parsimony, I climbed in the car and drove over the Taconics to see her do it at the Cohoes Music Hall. I had seen her in 2009 at the Mac-Haydn and had exceedingly happy memories of her eating that chicken at the Harmonia Gardens.
Wemitt had understudied Carol Channing in this role in the 1995 production of “Hello, Dolly!” Channing is notorious for never missing a performance, although I believe Wemitt did get to go on for her once. But how terrifying is going on to house full of people who have paid to see Carol Channing? Yikes! But here everyone had paid to see Monica M. Wemitt and they were not disappointed.
I joked beforehand that I wasn’t excited about seeing “Hello, Dolly!” but about seeing Wemitt. My mind had lumped “…Dolly!” in with a bunch of other “classic” American musicals which were beloved for an iconic performance rather than for any merit of the script or score itself – “Funny Girl” springs immediately to mind – but I was very, very wrong. “…Dolly!” is a well structured show with a panoply of appealing characters and lovely melodies.
Monica M. Wemitt as Dolly Levi (photo: The Mac-Haydn Theatre, Chatham, NY)
Everyone remembers Carol Channing’s last Broadway revival of Hello Dolly back in 1995. It turns out that it also happens to be the same production in which Monica M. Wemitt not only made her Broadway debut in the role of Ernestina Money but was also charged with being Carol’s standby. Both on Broadway, and then on the road with Channing, she came to know this classic Jerry Herman musical inside out. She now brings the role of Dolly Levi to life at the Cohoes Music Hall from November 1-11. She is sure to make Dolly as memorable and joyous a character on stage as you have ever met. Wemitt is an incredible talent with the sort of polish that comes from performing with (and filling in for) Dolly’s most beloved interpreter.
To quote Berkshire on Stage critic Gail Burns who travels all over to see Wemitt: “She is an actress with the gift to seem completely relaxed and spontaneous on stage. She establishes an instant rapport with her audience so that you feel every joke is a little secret between just the two of you. And she sings Jerry Herman wonderfully well.” From this review found on her site Gail Sez.
“Probably it was the Moody Blues. They were my favorites. I loved them, and I love them still, especially the records that they did with an orchestra.”
Iroquois singer-songwriter Joanne Shenandoah has been honored with more than 40 music awards throughout her career, including a Grammy and more than a dozen Native American Music Awards. She will step into the spotlight at the Cohoes Music Hall in Cohoes at 3pm on Sunday (October 7) in support of her latest album, “Lifegivers.” Tix are $15.