I’m telling you nowif you EVER get to see Jason Alexander do anything liveTAKE IT! Quite literally a star of stage and screenlarge and small, and a magician to bootthis Jersey boy takes on Broadway and more.
It’s like something out of Bizarro World! “Seinfeld’s” George CostanzaYankee employee, truly a lady killersings?! Does magic?! We knew he could do comedy, but WOW! Jason Alexander exploded many people’s narrow ideas of what he could do in his recent concert with New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO)“The Broadway Boy.” Bob Bernhardt, a favorite conductor of NJSO Pops programs, brought his own signature punny humor to the proceedings and it was truly a show to remember.
The Pops concerts attract a different crowd than the usual NJSO group and there were people of all ages there to hear the first act, where NJSO played works inspired by Jason’s career, and the second half-and-a-half where Jason gave us more than full measure round. Here’s how it went down.
The first act was orchestral music inspired by highlights of Jason’s career starting with the overture to “The Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl,” hearkening back of course to the Puffy Shirt episode of “Seinfeld!” We were treated to Edvard Grieg’s “Ase’s Death,” from “Peer Gynt,” of course referring to George’s fiancée Susan, and on through Bernard Herrmann’s “George M. Cohan Salute,” for George Costanza’s New York Yankees, Pietro Mascagni’s Intermezzo from “Cavalleria Rusticana,” for Alexander’s most reviled character in “Pretty Woman,” and of course John Williams Main Title from “Star Wars,” which thrills me every single time I hear it and was inspired by the Hypothetical “Star Wars” Holiday Special. These works clearly resonated with the audience who thought they were there just for Alexander. The selections perfectly set the scene for what was to come.
The second half, which was like a whole other concert in itself at close to 90 minutes, kicked off with a song he penned himself, the hardly humble “It’s So Exciting for You,” and we were off! A combination cabaret and cavalcade, Alexander was in his element and flexing his Broadway buffness by punctuating a very warm and engaging tale of his life as a Jersey boy and how his combination of luck, pluck, and determination took him to Broadway as a mere 20 year old. His soul is touched by rock and roll, though, so we enjoyed a Billy Joel medley, selections from Stephen Schwartz’s “Pippin,” a medley from Stephen Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along,” which was not a great success on its introduction on Broadway. Alexander showed off his directing chops by selecting seven truly random people from the audience, decked them out with costumes and props and put them through their paces on a rousing Kander and Ebb “Ring Them Bells” that had the audience, and the cast of “The New Jersey Symphony Players,” in stitches.
Winding down, we were treated to “Anytime” from “Elegies,” and the most outrageous of all, the brilliant “Inappropriate Medley” where we got delightful samples of all of the roles for which Alexander would cast himselffrom “Evita” to “Wicked” and everything in between. Jason Alexander is charming, engaging, warm and a post-modern genius giving us echoes of vaudeville and Borscht belt, when a performer had to be a quintuple threat or she or he could not get work. It’s also a great reminder that we are all so much more than the one role we’re noted forand Jason Alexander is a true entertainer.
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