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Kathleen Marshall Revels in Tales About Most Popular Broadway Songs

Kathleen Marshall scores with 'A Funny Thing Happened: Songs from the Road to Broadway,' a revealing show about some of Broadway's most popular songs. (Photo by D Dipasupil/ Getty Images)

Kathleen Marshall scores with ‘A Funny Thing Happened: Songs from the Road to Broadway,’ a revealing show about some of Broadway’s most popular songs. (Photo by D Dipasupil/ Getty Images)

Kathleen Marshall, a three-time Tony Award winner, revealed how some of Broadway’s most popular songs “saved the day” or launched careers in A Funny Thing Happened: Songs from the Road to Broadway, a captivating concert at Feinstein’s/54 Below.

Four of Broadway’s most talented performers helped tell the tales with renditions of songs like Burt Bacharach’s “I’ll Never Fall in Love, Again.”

Marshall also told how a song helped Sutton Foster make it big and revealed the song that turned Guys and Dolls into a Broadway classic.

She also delved into the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gershwin and Loesser and Yeston.

A few of the numbers presented were actually cut from shows, including “Ten Percent” from Chicago and “The Man I Love,” from both Lady Be Good and Strike Up the Band!.

Others, like “Younger Than Springtime” from South Pacific were changed over and over before finding the right fit.

Marshall explained the concept behind the show in a statement:

“I love the romantic idea of composers and lyricists writing a last-minute song in a hotel room or a theatre lobby out of town — the pressure of creating on the fly, with the clock ticking and adrenaline pumping.” Many of those songs not only made a huge impact on the show, but became standards as well.”

David Chase provided musical direction for the show, which had a sold-out run at the 92nd Street Y before moving to Feinstein’s/54 Below.

Among the cast, Greg Hildreth (Peter and the Starcatcher, The Robber Bridegroom) brought humor and surprising amiability to “Hook’s Waltz” from Peter Pan, with lyrics such as “Who’s the creepiest creep in the world?”

His deep vocals and animated charm were a treat, performing such songs as “Ten Percent” and “Oldest Established” (Guys and Dolls).

Aaron Finley (Rock of Ages, It Shoulda Been You) dueted with Jessica Vosk (Fiddler on the Roof, Finding Neverland) on “You’re Just in Love.” They brought down the house, in part, due to Vosk’s fantastic twist on Ethel Merman’s take in Call Me Madam.

Marshall explained the unusual creation of Kander and Ebb’s “Sing Happy,” the 11 o’clock number in Flora and the Red Menace. The song propelled Liza Minelli, then a 19 year-old making her Broadway debut, to a Tony Award.

Elena Shaddow (The Visit, The Bridges of Madison County) infused her numbers with energy and charisma.

Her duets, with Vosk on another Guys and Dolls number, “Take Back Your Mink,” and Hildreth on “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” showcased her versatility.

Marshall ended the evening with the story of a song that had its vocal arrangements written on a train from New Haven to New York.

It was meant to be a peripheral piece for the musical, but it not only became integral to the show, it also became the show’s title song. The entire cast ended on a grand note with “Oklahoma.”

The tune was the perfect finale to an evening celebrating all of the funny things that led to great songs and shows that thankfully found a home on Broadway.

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