Neil Berg has more than Broadway happening at Feinstein's

Times Square Chronicles
July 7, 2011

The evening is entitled "Broadway Show Stoppers and the Songs of Neil Berg." Appearing from July 5th thru 16th, composer Neil Berg is eager to talk about his love of baseball, his early college days as a jock and playing at piano bars until his friend Spanky dared him to audition for what became his first role in a musical, Lerner & Loewe's "Brigadoon." From there he was smitten.

In reality, the evening serves as a showcase for Berg's own material rather than the Show Stoppers, the music from the Great White Way. However, he was ultimately outdone by the talent he brought to sing the few Broadway tunes presented. The hot, spicy Luba Mason, a high school buddy of Berg, gave a sexy rendition of "All That Jazz," and having been part of a benefit reading for his show Grumpy Old Men, reprised the powerful "Ariel View" from that show which he is trying to bring to Broadway.

The soaring William Michals was mesmerizing as his wondrous operatic tones filled the room with "This Nearly Was Mine." Long time buddy Rob Evan paid homage to his friend talking about Berg's touring show "100 Years of Broadway" in which he frequently performs and presented several of Berg's songs including a duet with Michals, "Kingdom Calling" from The Man Who Would Be King, a bit too reminiscent of Wildhorn grandeur.

When Berg got to New York, it didn't take long to join up with a Broadway baseball team - the Phantom of the Opera gang where he met Rita Harvey. He played piano for her audition and then married her. She performed a poignant "Far From the Home I Love." Booming voiced Lawrence Clayton did a rockin' job on "Let the Good Times Roll" and guest artist Natalie Toro wowed with a spiritual number from a new show she'll be doing.

All in all, we got to know quite a bit about Neil Berg, his life and family members and especially about Grandma Lily who helped shape his musical spectrum and lived till the ripe age of 99. "The Stream," a song he wrote, was a tribute that seemed to encapsulate her essence. Berg has a nice aura about him and the evening came off as low-key, friendly with lots of remarkable singing talent, worth the price of admission.