American Classics – Reviews

American ClassicsThe Band WagonWatch Your StepStop! Look! Listen!Peggy-Ann

American Classics

American Classics has been a particularly welcome newcomer to the summer scene, in delightful programs of historical American popular music.” (Richard Dyer, Boston Globe)

“What American Classics does is document people’s dreams, and the way they’ve manifested themselves in the humble popular song over the generations. Nobody does it better.” (Richard Buell, Boston Globe)

” … Summer allows the talented performers of American Classics to celebrate the music of good times [with] delightful concerts of American light music. The members of American Classics are connoisseurs of the unusual, so there were many rarely heard pieces of the program. Margaret Ulmer, at her best, plays with a dappled variety of touch that must make the others want to sing all that much better. Benjamin Sears has a sunny baritone and a theatrical temperament counterweighted by an ironical self-awareness. Mary Ann Lanier’s soprano soars and she boasts excellent diction. Sylvie Stewart has a voice to match her outsize personality. Bradford Conner knows how to put patter across. The secret of light entertainment is that the standards of execution are no less demandingly exact than in the other musical arts. The best work by the American Classics performers demonstrated that they know this.” (Richard Dyer, Boston Globe)

American Classics offered audiences a fascinating look into the time capsule of the Broadway musical.” (Ellen Pfeiffer, Boston Globe, review of Peggy-Ann)

“The music is glorious. The performances are riotously screwball and you will leave humming the tunes. What’s not to love? If I didn’t have expensive opera tickets for Sunday, I’d see it again.” (Beverly Creasey, TheatreMirror, review of Strike Up the Band)

“Pure delight.” (Lloyd Schwartz, Boston Phoenix)

The Band Wagon

“Bradford Conner and Benjamin Sears did all the work [of reconstruction] and Sunday night an audience at the Longy School had all the fun. Witty pianist Margaret Ulmer stood in for a pit band. There was a cast of 14 talented people, many of them skilled in evoking the style of the period; they were directed with panache by David Frieze. There were some good theatre voices and all the others know how to put over a song in a genre that doesn’t require major voices. It was also a treat to hear a musical without amplification. A lot of individual talent climbed onto this bandwagon and in the process proved that comedy based on human reality doesn’t date any more than neatly turned lyrics and toetapping tunes do.” (Richard Dyer,Boston Globe)

“It’s good to have a look at the show, which was been patiently pieced together by Conner and Sears. The company has the vocal ability to carry such stalwarts as ‘New Sun in the Sky,’ ‘I Love Louisa,’ and the luminous ‘Dancing in the Dark.’ Fans of old Broadway scores will delight in the rediscovery of such forgotten songs as the charming ‘Hoops,’ well performed by Valerie Anastasio and Bradford Conner, and the sentimental ‘High and Low.'” (Iris Fanger, Boston Phoenix)

“Although the performance is billed as a concert version, just about everyone is off book which means the company does everything but bring out the banana peels. What comic timing this cast possesses. ‘Worry the wolf away’ with American Classics. This is indeed a show ‘that sends you out with a glow.'” (Beverly Creasey, Theatre Mirror)

Watch Your Step

American Classics provided ensemble virtues. Benjamin Sears and Diana Rice offered expert, droll delivery of period dialogue, and there was some sweet singing from Mary Ann Lanier as the good girl and uninhibited high spirits from Valerie Anastasio and Roberta Gilbert as two women who are not quite so good. The others all offered moments of charm. [Pianist] Margaret Ulmer offered wit, rhythm, intelligence, and attractive tone. The whole enterprise was completely praiseworthy in intention – Bradford Conner and Sears did the research and created the performing edition. We wouldn’t have been able to imagine Watch Your Step at all if it hadn’t been for the dedication and skill of these people, so they earned our gratitude.” (Richard Dyer, Boston Globe)

“It’s more than time for a revival.” (Iris Fanger, Boston Phoenix)

Stop! Look! Listen!

“[American Classics] outdo themselves with a historical performance you won’t see anywhere else.” (Beverly Creasey, Theatre Mirror)


“Nothing tickled me more than American Classics’ concert revival of Rodgers & Hart’s 1926 Freudian ‘play with music,’ Peggy-Ann.” (Lloyd Schwartz, Boston Phoenix)

American Classics did it again. Their revivals of historical musicals are the stuff of legend and Peggy-Ann races to the top of the list.” (Beverly Creasey, Theatre Mirror)