Sunday, October 29, 2017

Applause! Applause! Review of Carole Demas & Sarah Rice in Thank You For Your Love: Our Celebration Of Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt at The Laurie Beechman Theatre by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of Carole Demas & Sarah Rice in Thank You For Your Love: Our Celebration Of Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt at The Laurie Beechman Theatre was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 7 (2017) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!

Thank You For Your Love
Our Celebration Of Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt
Starring Carole Demas & Sarah Rice
With Special Guest Hal Robinson
Directed by Charles Repole
Piano/Vocals: Joe Goodrich
Harp: Maria Banks
Arrangements: Sarah Rice, Carole Demas & Joe Goodrich
Sound & Visual Design: Stuart J. Allyn
Logo Design: Harvey Schmidt
The Laurie Beechman Theatre
407 West 42nd Street
New York, New York 10036
Reviewed 10/7/17

Carole Demas is a Broadway and TV Legend having originated the role of Sandy in Broadway's original production of Grease and her having starred for 12 years hosting The Magic Garden with Paula Janis. One of her thousands of leading role performances On and Off-Broadway included playing The Girl (Luisa) in The Fantasticks, a show with music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones. Carole Demas received many honors including having been designated a Distinguished Artist by the Beaux Arts Society, which was founded in 1857. Sarah Rice's resume is no less impressive. Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince chose her to become part of musical theatre history when she was cast as the original Johanna in Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street for which she won a Theatre World Award. She originated the role of Marianne in a musical adaptation of The Miser, called Hang On To Your Ribbons, which led to her also being cast as The Girl in The Fantasticks. Sarah Rice won the 2011 MAC Award for Best Female Vocalist for her critically acclaimed solo cabaret debut show entitled Sarah Rice Sings Screen Gems. She was also designated a Distinguished Artist of the Beaux Arts Society and at the 109th annual Beaux Arts Ball held in 2015, she was coronated Princess and now serves as a member of the Royal Family of the internationally recognized Beaux Arts Society, a non-profit, charitable arts organization with members worldwide.

You may have heard of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, the songwriters of The Fantasticks and now you know that Carole Demas and Sarah Rice both played Luisa in that play but did you know both men are still alive and that Harvey Schmidt, who is also a Graphic Artist designed the logo for this tribute to their work.  (In this case, he didn't need to urinate on it to make it perfect.) Special Guest Hal Robinson, Sarah Rice's first El Gallo, recited the "Glen Speech" ("You wonder how these things begin...") with Sarah Rice accompanying him singing "Soon It's Gonna Rain" from The Fantasticks. This cabaret show's musical repertoire began with Musical Director Joe Goodrich and Harpist Maria Banks playing an overture of their work. Goodrich, who also provided vocals, often joined with Demas and Rice, to present "Everything Beautiful Happens At Night" (110 In The Shade), "Not My Problem" (Celebration), "Try To Remember" (The Fantasticks), "Celebration" (Celebration), and Feed 'Em Grits" (Time Staggers On). 

Carole Demas and Sarah Rice both have strong, beautiful voices that are still Broadway-quality. They sang a number of charming duets, which included "Wanderin' Child" (theme from Bad Company), "A Man & A Woman" (110 In The Shade), and "I Can See It" (The Fantasticks). Both these Broadway Stars also sang a few solo numbers. Carole Demas was impressive singing "Joy" (Collette) and "I Love His Face" (Philemon) while Sarah Rice impressed with "Old Maid" (110 In The Shade) and "Autumn At The Automat" (A Seasonal Sonata). When Tom Jones was a special guest on an earlier show, we learned he said he can still be sincere but "the older I get, the more I need to memorize my spontaneous remarks." When confronted with a compliment, we learned that Harvey Schmidt often says, "You lie. But you lie nice!" We also discovered that Sarah Rice worked on the original website for The Fantasticks and that she won an arts scholarship in Arizona but they wouldn't give it to her until she left town. Carole Demas, who appeared cold at one point, told the audience, "It's the diamonds. They get a little chilly in the winter." The climax of the show was Carole Demas, Sarah Rice, and John Goodrich singing "Thank You For Your Love" (Music by Harvey Schmidt, Lyrics by Tom Jones - 1960) and "My Cup Runneth Over" (Music by Harvey Schmidt, Lyrics by Tom Jones - 1966). The show was expertly directed by Charles Repole.

Carole Demas and Sarah Rice should be very proud of this show which introduces new generations to the brilliance and talent of Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones. The show is also a hit because Carole Demas and Sarah Rice still have the right stuff to please audiences worldwide. To quote a line from Celebration, "I want to stay alive until the day I die." I strongly urge you to catch this entertaining and informative show. The day I went, Thank You For Your Love was sold out. In recognition of that fact, Sarah Rice thanked the audience telling them, "It's so much better when you're here!"

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