Entertainment :: Music

Nice Fighting You: A 30th Anniversary Celebration

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Tuesday Jun 10, 2014
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A special recording in the reputable "54 BELOW" series of cabaret performances taped from the noted Manhattan club, "Nice Fighting You: A 30th Anniversary Celebration" commemorates the lengthy collaboration of composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens from their humble beginnings at the prestigious BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, through their current Broadway representations.

Though well-known and highly appreciated within the theater community, Ahrens and Flaherty have allowed their music to do the talking during their storied history, and this live evening fully encapsulates the diverse scope of their output. Their shows have been performed all over the world, and this double-album retrospective touches on all of them, in addition to several upcoming projects that were in the works during their six-night stint at the respected nightclub during taping last September.

The pair compiled an impressive list of "friends" to come and perform their songs, many of who were the original artists. Gorgeous performances from Brian Stokes Mitchell ("Wheels of a Dream" from "Ragtime"), Liz Callaway ("Journey to the Past" from the animated, "Anatasia"), and Kevin Chamberlain and Lewis Grosso ("Alone in the Universe" from "Seussical") were balanced with uplifting presentations of "The Streets of Dublin" from "Man of No Importance" (performed by Sean McCourt), "Make Them Hear You" (by Quentin Earl Darrington), and "Waiting For Life" (from "Once On This Island" and performed by Tony-winner LaChanze) to provide something for everyone. Also included was "Raining," from the now-on-Broadway "Rocky," (presented humorously in German by Ahrens herself, and then given the real treatment in English by Callaway) and two numbers from "Little Dancer," a work scheduled to appear in 2014 (adoringly sung by Stephanie J. Block and Jeremy Jordan).

Both Mary Testa and Bobby Steggert ("Big Fish") get nice opportunities to shine, with Testa bringing down the scenery with "Rita’s Confession" from "Lucky Stiff" (using Flaherty as her comic foil), and Steggert doing the impassioned, "The Night That Goldman Spoke At Union Square," also from "Ragtime."

The set list is evenly distributed among the duo’s catalogue, and provides an overdue look back at this team’s wealth of musical riches.

"Nice Fighting You: A 30th Anniversary Celebration"
Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, Liz Callaway, Bobby Steggert
CD and digital formats
Broadway Records

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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