I enjoyed having dinner at Trattoria Dopo Teatro before seeing a sneak preview of the new musical revue “I Saw Broadway at Dopo Teatro: Jonathan Brielle & Assorted Friends.” Jonathan Brielle, a songwriter and performer who is involved with several current new musicals, was joined by Broadway performers who sang songs from three of his new musicals as well as material from the Johnny Mercer songbook. I was treated to hearing the following engaging talents: cabaret singer-songwriter Amanda McBroom (who wrote “The Rose”); Erich Bergen, who recently appeared as rock impresario Bob Gaudio in the Broadway play “Jersey Boys”; Jeremiah James, just arrived from his role as Billy Bigelow in the West End revival of “Carousel”; and Wendy Fox of “Dreamgirls.” The evening was directed by Michael Bush, the artistic director of the Tony Award winning Eugene O’Neill Cabaret Festival. Joel Silberman was the guest musical director. The series will run on the first and third Thursdays of the month at Dopo Teatro with a rotating cast.
When I entered the attractive downstairs Garden Room, I immediately encountered a buffet dinner consisting of various cheeses, shrimp, assorted meat, pizza, fried calamari, fried chicken, and an open bar. So, armed with a plate replete with a lot of good food, I made my way to the long tables located in front of the stage area. The young woman seated across from me introduced herself as Brielle’s daughter, Zoe. I asked Zoe how it felt to be the daughter of a performance artist. Her answer: “Music was a huge part of my life. My father has been working on his shows since I was a kid. It was great to watch his progress. It is always fun to watch him perform. He sung at my engagement party and it was really special. I’m a singer too, so I love to sing duets with my father. We have this great special connection.”
The special connection Zoe described immediately encompassed the audience. Brielle sings from his heart and his work is imbued with personal revelation. The audience welcomed his plain unpretentious honest delivery. His lyrics are highly original and clever. People held their breadth as he rhymed “Lido, torpedo, labido, and Guido.” It seems to me that his range extends from Broadway lovers to Jersey Shore’s Snooki.
The end of my conversation with Zoe summed up the evening for me. She said, ”I’m the only one in this room who has known my father’s music for twenty-eight years. It is awesome to see it come to life here.” I felt privileged to share this awesome evening with Zoe. In terms of channeling my inner Ed Sullivan, I saw a “reeeeeeeeeally” great show—and you should see it too!
– Marleen Barr
Trattoria Dopo Teatro
125 West 44th Street
Trattoria Dopo Teatro plans to run the series on the 1st & 3rd Thursdays of each month with special Holiday shows to be added soon. The evening will include the show and a bountiful dinner from Trattoria Dopo Teatro’s widely praised menu featuring superb, artfully prepared dishes from the owner’s native Italy created by Executive Chef Alberto Alvarez. Tickets for dinner, the show with tax & gratuity included are $100 – less than the price of a Broadway Orchestra seat. Premium seating is available for $125.
Curated by Michael Bush and Jonathan Brielle, the cornerstone of the series is Brielle who began moving hearts and minds with music and words over twenty-five years ago. Whether on Broadway teaching his songs to the legendary Jessica Tandy in Foxfire; writing the musical themes for Ford Motors; writing music and lyrics for Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus; performing for 5,000 Avon Ladies; producing the opening number for the MTV Music Awards (25 male Rockettes in drag and featuring Roseanne Barr); co-producing and creating the original score for the US and UK tours of Goosebumps; playing James Joyce at the James Joyce Center in Dublin; or creating one of the longest running spectaculars in Las Vegas at the legendary Stardust Hotel, Jonathan has spent his life pursuing musical story telling.
Jonathan’s current new musicals include: Nightmare Alley performed at the Geffen Playhouse this past May with Concert Readings in NYC; 40 Naked Women, A Monkey, and Me, his latest original score and book debuted this summer at the Eugene O’Neal Festival in Connecticut; Menu featured in a workshop presented by AMAS and Himself & Nora, a musical based on the life of James Joyce which recently had a successful run in Dublin and is now gearing up for a New York presentation.