Best known for the long-running Off-Broadway musical The Prince and the Pauper, Berg is also the creator and co-producer of 100 Years on Broadway, a popular national touring show featuring an assortment of seasoned theater performers singing Broadway standards. Perhaps that's why the evening works best when it sticks to that formula.
William Michals unveils a truly powerhouse operatic baritone on "This Nearly Was Mine"; Luba Mason delivers a sexy "All That Jazz"; Lawrence Clayton has fun with "Let the Good Times Roll"; Rob Evan puts over a solid "This is the Moment"; and Rita Harvey -- Berg's wife, whom he openly adores -- shines on "Far From the Home I Love."
Unfortunately, when the evening showcases Berg's songs from several yet-to-be produced musicals, including Grumpy Old Men, The Man Who Would Be King and The Twelve , it too often has the feel of an extended backer's audition. Moreover, few of Berg's songs make much of an impact.
The overly sincere numbers from Grumpy Old Men only make one imagine what David Yazbek could have done with the comic subject matter, while such songs as "Kingdom Calling" and "Up There" from The Man Who Would Be King recall Frank Wildhorn at his most bombastic.
Ironically, it was the evening's special guest star, composer David Shire, who stole the show. It took "Patterns," a gorgeous number originally cut from Baby and here performed by Harvey with Shire at the piano, to prove what truly great songwriting is all about.