by Anna Altheide
The spirit of the 90s was alive and well at the W New York Times Square Living Room Bar on Sunday night, as the ensemble cast members of Aladdin and Come From Away performed an intimate medley of memorable 90s bops. Whether you lean toward 98 Degrees or Brian McKnight, the night included something for everyone, from kitchy pop hits and grunge classics to soul ballads plucked straight from VH1 Divas.
90s Night is the latest addition in Broadway at W’s ongoing series in partnership with 42 Seven Productions. Hosted by Ain’t Too Proud’s Jelani Remy, the evening kicked off with crowd-pleaser “This Is How We Do It," followed by guitarist and music director Alex Ortega’s acoustic rendition of “…Baby One More Time.”
Aladdin’s Deonté L. Warren, who can be seen at Birdland on July 27th, stepped up to the mic and spoiled the crowd with his soulful performance of Anita Baker's “Rhythm of Love." Nathan Lucrezio, also in the company of Aladdin, followed up with his cover of Mariah Carey's “My All," seductive enough to “produce and birth a few babies in the audience.” (Jelani’s words, not ours)
Q. Smith of Come From Away brought some always-welcome Cher energy to the mix with “Believe,” before performing “Make It Last Forever” (Keith Sweat) with stage company manager Dave Ehle. Ehle later took to the stage and performed Radiohead’s seminal classic “Creep,” followed by fellow Come From Away ensemblist Tony LePage’s grunged-out performance of Nirvana's “Smells Like Teen Spirit."
Additional highlights of the evening included Jelani Remy’s performance of Brian McKnight's “Back At One," Alex Ortega’s cover of SVW's “Weak," and Just Laugh’s Julian Diaz-Granados’ rendition of 98 Degrees' “True to Your Heart." Interwoven between songs was Remy and Ortega’s hilarious name-that-tune-style riffing with the audience, which included spontaneous performances of the Spice Girls, O-Town, and countless other numbers.
In true 90s-style New York, the Boys of Agrabah’s (feat. Nathan Lucrezio, Stanley Martin, Deonté L. Warren, Jacob Gutierrez, Malik Akil, Angelo Soriano, Travis Ward-Osborne, and Charles South) heartthrob medley was cut short by an actual NYPD intervention. The crime? In theory, tearing up our hearts. In actuality, a sketchy police investigation just outside the Living Room Bar, which prompted a highly unscheduled, surreal 15 minute intermission. The boys eventually jumped back on stage to wrap up their performance, which featured “Tearing Up My Heart,” “Backstreet’s Back,” “This I Swear,” “Motownphilly,” “MMMBop,” and even “The Thong Song.”
Last but not least, 90’s Night closed out with the Ladies of Agrabah (feat. April Holloway, Katie Terza, Kathryn Allison, Lauryn Ciardullo, Gaby Gamache, Olivia Donalson, Alicia Charles Owsley, and Tiffany Evariste) performing a powerhouse medley of 90’s female empowerment bangers, which included “Jumpin’ Jumpin’,” “Genie in a Bottle,” “Always Be My Baby,” and “The Boy Is Mine.”
Thank you to the companies of Aladdin, Come From Away, and 42 Seven Productions for a lively and memorable evening of laughs, libations, and great music.