Project Broadway: Forget About the Boys
BY JACKSON CLINE
What’s better than celebrating female musical theatre composers? Combining that celebration with an education on the history of their contributions to the art form. And that’s just what Symphony Space did with Forget About the Boys, the latest installment in the Project Broadway concert series.
Whether examining the work of Kay Swift, the first woman to compose the music for a Broadway score on her own, the extensive range of Jeanine Tesori’s voice, or the poetry set to music by Carmel Dean, each chapter of the evening was accompanied by performances from some of Broadway’s finest, along with a number of current Yale students.
Jason Gotay was a delightful vessel for Jeanine Tesori’s “What Do I Need with Love?” (Thoroughly Modern Millie) with his easygoing, boyish charm, and his hopeful rendition of Amanda Green’s “The Tryers” (cut from Hands on a Hardbody) was a highlight of the evening. Sally Wilfert showed off her wide range with a touching performance of “Lay Down Your Head” (Violet) before wringing every ounce of comedy out of Shaina Taub’s “Lighten Up” (Old Hats).
I can’t recall many artists with a presence quite like that of Darlesia Cearcy, last seen on Broadway in Once on this Island, in which she was a standout ensemblist and later replaced Lea Salonga as Erzulie. Whether Cearcy was dueting with Wilfert on bluegrass earworm “Out Here” (by Georgia Stitt) or simply watching another performer sing a solo, her magnetic energy consistently drew my eyes to her.
The evening ended with Cearcy’s electric performance of “I’m Still Here” from The Color Purple. Cearcy’s deeply layered performance not only celebrated Celie’s journey, but also the talented women we had spent the past 90 minutes honoring.