Manilow IS A MIRACLE on Broadway! Barry blazed the stage at the Lunt Fontanne Theatre as he performed his new one-man show “Manilow Broadway” at the Theatre on W 46th Street. I grew up on Manilow music, my husband and I dated listening, singing and loving Manilow songs.
The performance started with the feel of excitement that only an experienced showman could bring. There were projections on a screen of Manilow declaring “Hello…” to various cities and countries he has played. When the Williamsburg Brooklyn native, raised by his mother and Russian grandparents emerged the audience went wild, standing up, giving him a standing ovation and shouting, then he said “Hello New York” and it was on!
Anyone who is a diehard Barry Manilow fan like I am was in heaven. At age 76 Manilow is at the top of his game, his voice is exactly the way you remember it and he brilliantly performed every song, most of them the crowd knew and sang along too—I know I sang loudly with everyone, just about every song, except for one new one from his latest album and two other songs I wasn’t familiar with. The energy in the room was off-the-charts. To the point that the audience was shouting so loudly in appreciation as songs were introduced musically by his orchestra and Manilow on the piano that he had to stop playing at one point for all the love in the room.
He performed “New York City Rhythm,” “Daybreak,” “I Can’t Smile Without You”—with the assistance of the audience. For that song the words were projected on a screen, but we didn’t need it, we all knew the words by heart! Manilow talked about growing up and how his grandfather recognized the musical gift in him and encouraged it. He sang a song called, “Brooklyn Blues.” Reflecting on his very special relationship with his grandfather he shared “This One’s For You” is the song that makes him think of his grandfather and then he sang it with such incredible heart. That’s the element that is so present in Manilow songs, the HEART, the true, beautiful emotion that we all feel! Talking about his new album and this City he did “This Is My Town,” and that performance included the audience wearing 3-D glasses and flying around the city with Barry in a fun experience.
For me, one of his most touching, emotionally connected songs came next, “Even now,” as I sang it with Barry I cried. While he sings this song about a lost love and it being hard to move on with his new love and life. This song I associate with when my father passed away when I was 16 and I didn’t want to show my emotions around my mother, I felt like I had to be strong for her. That’s just an example of what Manilow songs do, they connect people with situations in their lives!
Now of course there are many songs, jingles and melodies that Manilow has written through the years, which he was marvelous enough to perform, one was “Let’s Hang On To What We Got,” done by Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons. He pulled on my heart strings again with “Time In New England.” God, this man is so talented! There’s something about a Manilow song that makes you pause, listen, think, be inspired, maybe even heal. You definitely reflect on things in your life. His brilliance abounds! “Time In New England” got a standing ovation, as did many songs last night.
Manilow shares how he wanted to be a songwriter, but also became a singer. He talked about his career and then sang, “It’s A Miracle”, and he is! When the music started to play to “Memory”, the room, which had not one empty seat, burst into applause. Manilow sang his heart out to this song and we were back up on our feet praising his passion and abilities. At times during the two-hour performance the singer/songwriter seemed to be wiping tears from his eyes, as he seemed to be as moved by the audience as he moved us! “Could This Be Magic” was magical indeed! Manilow, taking after Donna Summer, performed a disco version of the song, assisted by his three African American back-up singers during the performance. Everyone loved it and we got to stand up and sing it with him. It was a total blast! Again, Manilow touched my heart, with one of his tender songs, “I Made It Through The Rain,” God the memories that song brings. Then we were in for a big treat as a video of Manilow in 1975 performing “Mandy” on the Clive Davis show started to play and then the Maestro came out, started to play the piano and joined in, performing with himself—it was an amazing moment to experience! Now of course we all sang the song as well! He gave a powerful performance of “One Voice.” He then treated us to a medley of so many of his wonderful hits through the years. I won’t tell you which ones, you should be surprised. Manilow performed with the audience, who held up and swayed side to side with glow sticks in our hands, “I Write The Songs.” While we were on our feet, he did “Copacabana.”
All I can say is Barry blazes On Broadway! But, he’s only there through August 17th!