Fabulous Divas of Broadway

  • Review by:
    Robert Rubin.

    A Review by Robert Rubin.

    After a five month run in Los Angeles the musical Fabulous Divas of Broadway has opened at the St. Luke�s Theatre which is located at 308 W 46th Street. The show, which is 85 minutes long, is billed as "a fast-paced musical journey of one man's love of the theatre and the amazing ladies that inspired him along the way."

    Creator and actor/singer Alan Palmer delivers a sometimes funny and occasionally touching look at growing up in the business while portraying 18 different stars of the Broadway stage. Palmer brings to life such legends as Ethel Merman, Carol Channing, Liza Minnelli, Angela Lansbury, Julie Andrews, and Judy Garland. He gives us a look at Tony award winners Chita Rivera, Christine Ebersole, Patti LuPone, Sutton Foster, Kristin Chenoweth and Beth Leavel. The show is fast paced and lets us hear songs that were associated with each diva. Palmer makes it very clear that these are not impressions of the divas, but his tribute to people who shaped his career. In between musical numbers Palmer gives us his reminiscences of growing up in a small town, being obsessed with musical cast albums, auditioning for show in New York City, and performing during onstage and backstage problems.

    Palmer�s voice was surprisingly thin during many of the musical numbers. He had trouble at times finding the correct notes for some of his songs. There are some scenes which are first-rate. When Palmer assumes the high voice for Ellen Greene in Somewhere That�s Green from Little Shop of Horrors he is at his best as he uses his face to create her style. Palmer as Christine Ebersole singing Revolutionary Costume from Grey Gardens was stunning. His musical number called the �New Diva Medley� has some success such as his Good Morning Baltimore by Marissa Jaret Winokur, but the number immediately falls flat with his rendition of There�s A Fine Line as sung by Stephanie D�Abruzzo. Mr. Palmer�s number remembering Chita Rivera in Kiss of the Spider Woman is poor even thought he use his arms and hands with some of the inflection and phrasing of Chita. As Liza Minnelli, he fails to belt-out the tune while asking the audience to use their keys for sound effects during the song Ring Them Bells is clever. The result is an uneven evening of theater.

    The production has been written and staged by Alan Palmer. Palmer received an L.A. Garland Award for Best Director. His musical revue Songs the Girls Sang received an ADA Award for Best Choreography and an Ovation Award nomination for Best Book. As a performer, his New York credits include The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Bernie's Bar Mitzvah and Making Waves. The production which features scenic design by Jessa Orr is serviceable. She has chosen to decorate the stage with a small stage surrounded by lights where Palmer can do his musical numbers. A small makeup table and a screen which Mr. Palmer uses to change behind complete the simple set. The costumes were design by C. Bucky, who gives us a cornucopia of feathered and functional dresses. Mr. Palmer is accompanied onstage by Curtis Jerome who seemed to be bored as he played the piano.

    The show could be a treat for all lovers of musical theater. However, in the final analysis it is a show that could successfully play Las Vegas on most weekday afternoons.

    Robert Rubin