Broadway's Best: Celebrating the Music of Ron Abel

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Birdland, the legendary Manhattan Jazz Club, played host for two nights only to celebrate, one of Broadway's best and Hollywood's hottest talents, composer and musical genius Ron Abel.

The evening titled, Until Now . . . The Music of Ron Abel, was hosted by Broadway producers Paul Lambert and Jonas Neilson to celebrate Mr. Abel and his lyricist, Chuck Steffan's incomparable talent and introduce them to the invitation-only group of industry insiders, media, Broadway talent and guests as the newest addition to their second Broadway bound musical, “Bricktop.”

They could not have chosen a better location to introduce the creative team for “Bricktop” than Birdland. This Jazz Club has been the home to jazz greats since its inception. 

I don't remember an evening that allowed my creative eyes to see the future of Broadway as they did with this event.  Paris in the twenties, one of the birthplaces of jazz in Europe, freedom of choice, freedom and there was Bricktop's. Ladies filling the night with songs like the notes from a saxophone down Fifth Avenue. When the cacophony of life fades and the day is gone, night turns to notes played on a saxophone.

I saw a spectacular unfolding at the Birdland Jazz Club. It was a nightclub experience to begin to whet the appetite for the upcoming Broadway experience “Bricktop.” As the evening progressed we were treated to the news that Ron Abel and Chuck Steffan will be the composing/lyricist team for all the music featured in “Bricktop.”

The evening was intimate, the music romance; Unlikely lovers meeting in unusual places and old friends gathering for laughter, a first date with silent hopes of a lasting relationship. Just enough, when the night ended, to make you want more.  

The unusual beginning with "Is This Your Life?" a show tune style song sung by Jack Noseworthy captured the trepidations of every person hoping for a favorable relationship review and all that is received are the awkward moment awards: "The Best Of" guaranteed to embarrass.

The songs that followed created a timetable of relationship beginnings, experiencing the freedom to move on and then the moment of knowing that this person, the one that you never really saw before, is The One.

This dream of possibilities was realized in the lyrics of "Believe In Yourself" written by Ron Loshin and sung by Natalie Douglas. The song was written for “First Wives World” the Internet site founded by Producer's Paul Lambert and Jonas Neilson.

By way of introduction and described by Ron Abel, a life-long dream of Mr. Loshin's was to be a lyricist. Mr. Loshin, who is also a partner in “First Wives Club,” the musical, lived out his dreams of writing these lyrics.

They are inspirational. The intent, by my interpretation, was to instill hope into all of us who have experienced bumps, setbacks or disillusionments along the way. And, like a miracle, received another chance or at least hope.

The appreciation for the lyrics of Mr. Loshin, Ms. Douglas' talent and the music of Mr. Abel as they performed publically one of the numbers that may be featured in the upcoming Broadway production of “First Wives Club,” the musical was overwhelming; Inspirational, welcoming and overwhelming.

The motion picture, of the same name, written by the late Olivia Smith and starring Bette Midler, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn became an international hit.  Casting for the Broadway musical adaptation has not yet begun and yet, there was no secret about who was shamelessly looking for work. The First Wives Club” has played to rave reviews on the West coast.

No, not me although I found myself in good company as Michelle Lee and Lucie Arnaz both indicated that they were ready and available to begin working on what insiders are already calling the newest addition to the Broadway hits.

After Michelle Lee treated the audience and her fellow performers, well Joey Gian, with deep appreciation she began to work on Mr. Lambert. "You know Paul," she began, "I haven't worked in some time. So I'm available." To which Mr. Abel replied, "Such a shy gal."  

Between Ms. Arnaz and Ms. Lee was the gifted Valarie Pettiford. She is an amazing talent. The first time I heard her sing at the Broadway workshop in March she was impressive and equally impressive this time.

Mr. Lambert said, "After Michelle Lee and Valerie Pettiford sang Lucie Arnaz got up to finish the show and said "Well Paul Lambert, I know you're out there in the audience somewhere ... I think you've just seen a pretty good audition for opening night of “The First Wives Club.” I think it should be Michelle, Valarie and yours truly!"

I think countless audiences would agree. I  know ours did.

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