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'Neil Berg's 100 Years of Broadway' to play in Oklahoma City
“Since I was an arranger, pianist and the person who disseminated some historical nuggets about the songs we perform, people kept telling me I needed to attach my name to the show. At first, I was against it, but it became a way of branding the show, and I was the person audiences identified with. Anyone who likes Broadway show tunes flips over this show.”
One of Berg's primary missions with this production is to hire performers who have numerous Broadway credits, an approach that gives the touring revue added cachet. And while his casts rotate in and out depending on availability, the singers scheduled to perform in Oklahoma City all have strong Broadway and/or touring connections: Joseph (Christine Daae in “The Phantom of the Opera”), Michals (the beast in “Beauty and the Beast,” Javert in “Les Miserables”), Calvert (“It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues,” Grizabella in “Cats”), Zolli (Jesus, Judas and Annas in “Jesus Christ Superstar”) and Evan (the title roles in “Jekyll & Hyde,” Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables”).
Narrowing the list of repertoire for a two-act production of Broadway favorites proved to be an immense challenge, especially given the wealth of musical theater tunes that have become hits apart from the musicals that produced them.
“I started out doing things chronologically, but it was too predictable,” Berg said. “I always play to the strengths of the performers we have, which means they get to perform songs from the musicals in which they starred on Broadway.
“Then, I tried to fill out the remainder of the concert with musical theater nuggets that best matched their vocal strengths. If we don't have the right performer for a Cole Porter song, we're going to steer away. My show is not driven by me or the people who live their lives working in the business. It's about the music, and this is really a greatest-hits collection from the musical theater.”