From the Broadway Stage to Wautoma!


The Broadway Boys
The Broadway Boys

The Broadway Boys, a collection of the hottest male voices currently working on the New York stage, will be appearing at Wautoma’s McComb/Bruchs Performing Arts Center on Saturday, March 21st at 7:00 PM. The performance is being sponsored by Moose Inn, Alliant Energy Foundation, Culvers Restaurant, Wautoma Rotary Club, 106.1 FM Radio, Chiropractic Health & Wellness Center, and Kubasta, Bickford & Lorenson Law Firm.

Imagine watching a show with unparalleled vocals and explosive energy. Imagine classic songs being completely reinvented. Imagine an evening full of show tunes presented with a contemporary flare. You’ve just envisioned the Broadway Boys. Representing such shows as “The Book of Mormon”, “Spiderman”, “Wicked”, “Jersey Boys”, “Mary Poppins”, “Motown” and many more, they have toured across the country introducing audiences to new arrangements of their favorite theater sounds and combining Broadway and Pop genres. Their first album, “Lullabye of Broadway” debuted at #6 on iTunes.

The Broadway Boys were created in June of 2005 to play a single night at a club in New York City. The overwhelming response and a packed bar forced the club to bring the boys back again for another sold out evening. Realizing that this group had serious growth potential, The Boys decided to focus and develop their product into the “symphony of sound” that they have become. Through their dynamic vocal prowess and redefining arrangements, the Boys add elements of Pop, Funk, Gospel, Jazz, and Folk to show tunes and classic pop songs. Performing as a group of six, the Boys are able explore harmonies rarely presented by Broadway singers.

The 6-man ‘super group’ aims to shake things up in musical theatre. Getting a job on Broadway is one thing. Keeping a job on Broadway is another. And finding ways to keep your creative juices flowing when you’re singing backup on Broadway night after night? That’s a whole other challenge, and it’s what led Jesse Nager to form the Broadway Boys. “Doing the same show [on Broadway] every night is very exciting — for about a month,” says Nager, who got a job right out of college in the ensemble of Mamma Mia! “I was looking for new, interesting things to keep me going.” It turned out that the same was true for a bunch of Nager’s friends, who were appearing in such shows as The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Altar Boyz, Hairspray and Wicked. Their desire to stretch themselves and to find new audiences led to the Broadway Boys, who give musical-theater standards an unexpected spin.

Jim Caruso, who books acts for the New York jazz club Birdland, is the one who calls the Broadway Boys a “super-group” and its members “first-rate singers on the New York theatrical scene.” He booked the group into Birdland the first time without having heard a note — based only on Nager’s energy and the names in his cast. Now the Broadway Boys have become regulars there, and they have jammed the club, Caruso says, with theater folk, friends and fans. He calls their music “hip, distinctive take[s] on American standards and theater songs.”

To artistic-director Nager and his fellow Boys, the goal is to present musical-theater material in ways audiences have never heard it. Their biggest YouTube hit, he says, is a gentle rendition of Wicked’s “Defying Gravity” sung mostly to acoustic guitar. “People either love it or hate it — but they say, ‘I actually never listened to the lyric before.’ “There’s a new generation who’s used to hip-hop and funk and gospel. My 16-year-old sister would never put in a CD of [the 1947 Broadway classic] Finian’s Rainbow, but she came away from our last concert saying, ‘Oh my God, I love that arrangement of ‘Old Devil Moon.’ ” They do what Nager calls a “funk gospel arrangement” of “Lullaby of Broadway,” and their repertoire stretches from “Imagine” to “Bop ’til You Drop” to — believe it or not — Mary Poppins’ “Feed the Birds.” Nager was appearing in Broadway’s Mary Poppins when he decided to leave the show and concentrate on the Broadway Boys. Since then their collective career has taken off: They’ve performed in other high-profile New York clubs, done lucrative corporate gigs and been booked into across the country.

The roster of Boys has increased to about 20 because, as Nager says, “You never know who’s going to get a job.” One of the six singers lined up for Orlando may have to be replaced because of rehearsals for an upcoming Broadway show, Nager said last week. And, of course, all Broadway shows eventually close. “One of our goals is to create opportunities for my amazingly talented friends who are not currently in shows. One week they’re starring, and the next week they’re in coat check. “What’s most exciting is getting the music out to a new audience. I’m always thinking how I can push myself further as a musician, a singer and an actor. It keeps me on my toes”. The Wautoma appearance will feature Broadway veterans Patrick O’Neill, Brad Greer, Gabe Violett, Jesse Johnson, Tim Young, and Josh Dawson.

The Broadway Boys will also be conducting an educational workshop earlier in the day with the Wautoma High School Show Choir. The Show Choir will join in a featured number on stage during the evening performance.

Tickets to The Broadway Boys are available at the McComb/Bruchs Performing Arts Center located at 514 S. Cambridge St., Wautoma. The box office reopens March 9th and will be open Monday through Friday, 10:00 am until 2:00 pm, and from 3:00 pm until the performance on March 21st. Patrons may also purchase a special dinner package for Moose Inn along with their show tickets. Orders may be placed by phone at (920) 787-2189, or toll-free at (888) 987-2189, Visa, Discover, and MasterCard are accepted. More information is available at http://www.mccombbruchspac.com.

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