New York, NY — “SMILE : A Broadway Reunion,” featured songs from Marvin Hamlisch and Howard Ashman’s 1986 musical Smile, presented at 54 Below on Sept. 22nd, 2014
This presentation was directed by Richard Biever with musical direction by Roberto Sinha; produced by Jennifer Ashley Tepper. The concerts featured original Broadway cast members Mana Allen, Jodi Benson, Anne Bobby, Susan Dow, Linda Hess van Kesteren, Lauren Kosarin, Andrea Leigh-Smith, Nikki Rene, Tia Riebling and Cheryl-Ann Rossi, who were joined by Lewis Cleale, Sally Wilfert, Megan Kane, Caitlin Kinnunen, Molly Model, and Monet Julia Sabel.
REVIEW — FROM HOWARDASHMAN.COM ”
The SMILE reunion concert”
Monday, it was especially poignant to see the original cast, twenty-eight years later. Jodi Benson welcomed the crowd to “Menopause, the Musical,” but in truth, what you saw was a group of terrifically talented women on stage celebrating the past without trying to relive it. It was like Smile with a totally happy ending. And I was interested to see that the original cast of Smile had gone the way many of the show’s fictional characters probably did – some have stayed in the business, some have moved on to very different worlds, some have remained New Yorkers, many have not. And in a lovely piece of serendipity, Mana Allen’s (Miss El Centro) daughter, an actual “typical High School senior,” was onstage with her mom, singing in the chorus
SMILE, with music by Hamlisch and book and lyrics by Ashman, is a satirical portrait that “follows the intrigue and exploits onstage and behind-the-scenes as Santa Rosa, California plays host to the Young American Miss Pageant”
Songs from the Hamlisch-Ashman score included “Disneyland,” “Smile,” “In Our Hands,” “Very Best Week of Your Lives” and “Dear Mom.”
MUSICAL SMILE: Smile opened Nov. 24, 1986, at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre with a cast that featured Jodi Benson, Veanne Cox, Anne Marie Bobby, Marsha Waterbury and Jeff McCarthy; it played 48 performances.