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If this wasn't the best show I've ever seen, it ranks up there in the top two! Yeah, I know - every show can't be the best I've ever seen. But you know, if you walk into the theater every night without expectations, if you leave behind your ideas and opinions of what you think Barry should be doing, then you've left the door open for him to WOW you. And why would you want to throw that opportunity away?? I'm perfectly willing to let Barry do what he does best - and I'm often rewarded for it by being able to experience shows that seem better than I've ever seen before. This was one those nights - and yes, I can honestly say, this was definitely one of the most rewarding nights of my Manilow-fan-career.
And to think I almost didn't go to this show. I would have missed a treasure. Lots of pictures in this review because it WAS such a special show.
Before the show, we had heard that it would be a "big" show. We sat around at Sardi's speculating about what "big" meant. A couple of different songs? Best Seat in the House? Forever And A Day? An encore? Well, we had no clue what "big" meant - and even less clue about what was going to hit us. There were a ton of differences in this show. No guarantee I'm going to remember them all. I was too excited when I left the show, and I still hadn't calmed down by morning. In fact, I'm not sure I'm ever coming down off this high. (note: high caused by a huge dose of Manilow - nothing else!)
This is going to be the best silhouette shot I got from the Broadway run. It's okay, I guess. Almost didn't get any shots at all. Dropped my camera on the floor at Sardi's before the show. I was holding my breath, because the camera was acting very strange. It continues to act strange, but it appears it still takes pictures just fine. Think maybe I'd better start shopping around for a replacement, though.
I know I've often said I love it when Barry takes me away to his world. He managed to do that song after song at this show. Toward the beginning, Barry turned to us with that sly little grin and a twinkle in his eye, wiggled his fingers at us, and said, "it's going to be a magical evening". Little did we know...
The beginning of the show was like a greatest hits medley, except most of the time the pieces of the songs were a little longer than what you would normally think of in a medley. I knew I had heard something similar in the past - I had to dig back through old reviews to find it, but there was one particular show from the past that had a similar medley - and it was one of those "special" shows, too. The songs were in a slightly different order this time. And the lighting was far more spectacular.
But I've jumped ahead of myself... Barry opened with It's A Miracle. If possible, he seemed even more "up" than what we've seen at these previous Broadway shows - even more than the first night of previews. Same mood carried over into Could It Be Magic. I didn't take any BAM shots - oh, the shock - oh, the horror - sorry! Didn't snap a single one. Thought about it, even picked the camera up, but no... But how about one of these instead? It's still from Could It Be Magic. Gorgeous Barry in a tux, with a gorgeous blue background.
And then things began to change... Surprise after surprise...
One of the biggest surprises of the night was Ready To Take A Chance Again. How good was it? I didn't take any pictures - I couldn't take any pictures. Talk about selling a song! I couldn't have told you what color the lighting was, whether there were any graphics behind Barry, what city I was in, or what my name was... I mean, I do really love the song - and it was a huge surprise - and I haven't heard that much of it sung in ages... But Barry's performance knocked me completely for a loop. Documenting the performance was the last thing on my mind - I just wanted to drink in the experience.
An image of a sunrise over mountains served as the backdrop for Daybreak. Very appropriate image for this song! I still hadn't quite recovered from the previous song, but I seem to remember Barry singing Daybreak happily. I remember the same "feel" from the song that I would get every time he performed it in his Vegas medley. Just upbeat and happy.
How is this for a gorgeous stage? Just beautiful. This is during the opening segment of the show - I think it was right after Daybreak.
Somewhere in the Night was in a slightly different spot in the show - still part of that mega-medley, if I remember correctly. Either I was so completely swept up into the moment of it all, or they changed the lighting slightly. I always remember it being beautiful, but not this beautiful. The blue glow and the stars were there, but I don't remember it being this striking before. It was kind of intoxicating - the visual beauty...the musical beauty...the warm, soothing voice of the beautiful man in front of us... See, I told you I was on a Manilow high.
Barry finished out the mega-medley with This One's For You. This one was the shortest song piece of all that were in the medley, but that didn't matter. The message was clear. The show tonight was for us - the people who have supported him throughout this run.
So, all that would have qualified as "big", right?. But it didn't end there...
I wasn't quite as uncomfortable tonight during Can't Smile Without You. Of course, I had two rows of people in front of me to hide behind - that helped! But something about the way the night was going took away a little of the inhibition, so I joined in with the sing-a-long. In all the years of seeing this song performed, I never would have dreamed that it could turn into this. It's not surprising that the fans would embrace it - but the civilians seem to love it, too. At least as far as the sections of the audience I've seen, it's very rare to find someone who remains seated. Not everyone sings along, but they almost always stand up - and they usually seem to enjoy the song. I don't know how other fans view it (I've never really discussed it with anyone), but this song almost seems like an anthem - or maybe just a dedication. Whichever... Figuratively speaking (and sometimes literally), we can't smile without Barry - there's something missing when he's not around. I'm not just talking about attending shows - not everyone can do that. But when he takes a break, drops out of the spotlight for a couple of months, we get a little uneasy. We do... Admit it. We can't smile without him...
The civilians seem to embrace Bandstand, as well. Everyone in the audience seems to love watching it and everyone on the stage seems to love performing it. It makes everyone smile. And how can you not like that?
Apparently Barry knocked me for a loop again with his The Old Songs-Stay combination. I don't remember anything about the lighting or much audience reaction or anything external to the actual performances. When I try to play it back in my head, I just seem to remember specific moments - like the opening of The Old Songs - I remember Barry getting that romantic look on his face, and starting to sing in a voice that could melt you. And then I have this vivid image of him at the end of Stay, gesturing toward the audience and strongly singing, "darlin', stay". And that's all I remember. Must have been a couple of great performances!!!
Even Now. Another killer performance. Regardless of where Barry was performing, sitting at the keyboard or standing at center stage reaching for us, he had us in the palm of his hand. If I remember correctly, the audience was a little too vocal during this song - I think this is the one where someone yelled out, disrupting things a little. I *think* this was the song - don't hold me to that. Again, I mainly just remember the emotion of the song. Barry started out with a melancholy tone. When he got to the second verse where he has been folding his arms for emphasis, he did do that, but only briefly - then he decided to turn back toward center stage. Just about at the spot where he sings "and the feeling's still the same", he gestured toward us - and that's where I got this first shot.
As a rule, I have stopped taking photos at this point in the song. I just want to experience it, because the performance is consistently strong - it's very easy to get lost in what Barry is doing. And I enjoy doing that. But since I was sitting dead center, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get that particular angle on "the reach", if Barry should decide to do it. And he did - and I broke the spell I was under long enough to get the shot. Actually, I compromised. I took the chance that I could focus, and snap the shots while still looking over the top of the camera because I didn't want to miss the moment just for the sake of a few photos. I managed to pull it off - I got a series of shots of that special moment in time, and still got the full feeling/emotion/passion from Barry. (I multitask well...usually...) I put the camera down then so I could enjoy that final huge note! Fantastic performance!
Absolutely love the backdrop of the bridge during Brooklyn Blues. There are other scenes displayed throughout the song, but this one is my favorite. And I love the part of it where the backups come forward and sing together with Barry.
Decided I really needed to get some photos of Barry with baby Barry - or, in other words, Barry with the backdrop of his first album cover. He always makes fun of it - cringes when he looks at it. And yet that's the guy we all fell in love with!
Barry actually performed the original Looks Like We Made It. Well, uhm... The Hilton version... The sexy version. Isn't the background just gorgeous? LOL! This song knocked me for a loop the same way Ready To Take A Chance Again did. I'm trying to get back in focus!
So, we got the complete LLWMI song. Barry did a great job of selling it. Love the way he gestured at the audience when he sang, "do you love him?" I don't remember him ever doing it quite like that. I seem to remember it being much less pronounced, more of just singing a lyric, not stating a lyric. This time it felt like he was really addressing the audience, the way he leaned forward a little and gestured.
And the hand in the pocket - oh, my... Barry took it a step further with that expression on his face... Yep, I heard some audience reactions from that one. (I swear it wasn't just me!)
The BIGGEST surprise of the night was Who's Been Sleeping In My Bed. When I realized that's what they were doing, even I started jumping up and down. Okay, jumping up and down for me means I came about an inch off the floor. But that's big for me! Hey, it was REALLY panning out to be a "big" show - I might as well go for it! (the person who said this would be a big show should have said HUGE show)
Man, Barry turned into Mr Rock Star for that performance. Talk about attitude! I hit it lucky with my seat - I was sitting perfectly dead center - what better place to be for this song. Barry rocked out and I got the full force of that attitude. BEYOND AWESOME!!! Barry pulled off the lyrics, the accusations perfectly. He had me feeling guilty, and I haven't done anything! He didn't just gesture at the audience, the way he pointed his finger felt like we were being stabbed. There was as much fire in his eyes as I've ever seen during any of his performances.
Barry was fierce - you can see that in his final pose. He was on fire for this performance!
As he held that final pose, you could the fierce expression turn into smiles - I think Barry was listening to our reaction and hearing how much we loved it. The crowd went wild.
Barry did use the mic stand as a prop. I have no idea if he just stood there with it, or if he added a little to the choreography... I don't care - I was so caught up with watching the fire in his eyes, all I needed was for my peripheral vision to pick up on the fact that he had grabbed the mic stand - that was good enough for me! I love to watch Barry perform this song!!!
Normally New York City Rhythm takes the show into a high energy upbeat mode - but we didn't need that! We were already at the top from watching WBSIMB! We almost needed recovery time! Maybe that's why Barry chose to put the songs in the order that he did - because going from WBSIMB to WINE would have been like driving in a car at 100mph and then suddenly slamming on the brakes. (or the way my flight into LGA landed - our pilot must not have understood that you really need to slow the airplane down before trying to land)
But we were able to make the transition. Weekend in New England was AGAIN incredible. Isn't the stage beautiful?
No smile photos this time, but caught this - this was right after the point in the song where Barry gets so passionate and he usually stretches his arms out to this sides. In the last review, I mentioned that it almost seemed like a release to keep him from exploding with passion. Well, these two shots were taken immediately after that moment. They kind of illustrate what I'm saying - he looks emotional, so emotional that he looks spent. But this is what takes WINE to the next level, makes it go far beyond being just another power ballad. It's why Barry is the master - no other performer does this. No one else can transport an audience to an alternate reality during a song the way Barry does.
And then the pain at the end... Even when Barry doesn't sigh, we do...
Barry took us right back up to the high energy level with Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You. I threw caution to the wind and actually sang along this time. I didn't stand up, but I did sing. (baby steps, baby steps!) This really is a fun song the way Barry performs it.
I'm afraid this is all you'll get in the way of photos from Every Single Day. I had to force myself to take this shot - and it was at the very beginning of the song. Barry completely mesmerized me with his performance. I didn't even notice the beautiful lighting this time. This performance was so moving I had tears in my eyes by mid-way through the song. Even Barry's intro to the song was moving - even that little piece was emotional. Barry has turned this into something very believable - the "performance" aspects are gone - or maybe I should say, the story Barry is telling has become so real, the aspects of his performance that would seem very fitting for a Broadway play have now melded into the story, and seem perfectly natural as one passionate/emotional person speaks to another. As much as Ready To Take A Chance Again knocked me for a loop, this song got to me even more. I hope this isn't the last time I ever see it performed live - but if it is, this is just how I want to remember it. Oh, gee - that kind of sounds like a line from the song, "look at me the way I'll remember..."
While I was busy wiping the tears from my eyes, Barry moved into Tryin' To Get The Feeling Again. Another excellent performance. I love this first shot, where he's getting into the mood for the song. And the second shot, well, that's what you call extremely lucky - to press the shutter at the exact instant he glances in our direction.
The performance was very passionate. Even in the beginning, before Barry got really wound up - that was passionate, too. But, of course, he really started to pour it on as the song progressed. The way Barry has been performing this lately even seems to impress the civilians. I don't think anyone would be immune to it - what Barry is doing is so strong, you can feel the passion and emotions yourself.
I love this shot, not because it's a great photo - but because I caught it just as Barry was about to slam his hands down on the keys. He gets very animated during the performance - really pounds the keyboard. Sometimes makes me afraid he's going to break it - ha! I suspect his Yamaha is far more sturdy than the one I own, though!
And then this shot. This is the red lighting I was talking about in one of my earlier reviews. I love this! The photo is neat, but it still doesn't come close to capturing what it really looks like.
No speech tonight about following our dreams during I Made It Through the Rain. Barry simply moved into a very uplifting version of the song. And again, he seemed incredibly happy - as if everything in his life was going better than he ever imagined. Don't know about you, but I love seeing him this happy. Barry usually turns this song around toward the audience - he makes it about us. But tonight it seemed more about HIM. Maybe this was about Harmony. Whatever it was, I want more of it for him - because I can't help but be happy seeing him this happy.
Caught a really passionate moment during Mandy. I'm not sure which was more passionate this time - the Mandy portion, or the Could It Be Magic portion. I think they were equal. I didn't really notice Barry playing to the audience at all. When he performs the song this way, you definitely feel the lyrics a little more. I don't really have a preference for performance style - I like both methods.
While Copacabana was still upbeat, Barry wasn't quite as playful as I've seen at the other Broadway shows. Maybe that was a carryover from the Mandy medley, which was on the more serious side. Copa WAS still upbeat - Barry just wasn't doing as many cute things as he normally does. He did lead us through a big sing-a-long with a smile on his face, though.
I finally got that shot of the peacocks I've been wanting. Yes, Barry - I was actually taking a photo of the backdrop instead of you... Sorry!
A guy stood up in front of me just as I snapped this - too bad - it would have been really cute.
I didn't try to take photos of the "ah, love" bit tonight. That part really WAS extra cute. Barry said, "ahhhh, love...." - his best version, where he draws it out, making it very dramatic. But then instead of "ah, romance", he stopped, looked at the audience, and said, "SEX", very quickly, then gave us a little smirk, and bounced off to the side of the stage to finish out the song. And then we got an exaggerated "don't fall in love" - I remember the moment he said it the words "too late" just popped into my head - almost like a reflex. How many times we gotta tell you, Barry? IT'S TOO LATE to tell us not to fall in love!!
So maybe Barry didn't seem as playful during Copa as he usually does, but he was definitely enjoying I Write the Songs. This is one of the cutest IWTS shots I've ever captured.
But this one may give it some competition.
Barry seemed to seriously enjoy the sing-a-long portion of IWTS. That smile on his face was huge.
More than once during the show Barry mentioned this was his last Broadway show. And he thanked us. And he told us to be sure to come see him in other cities if we can. The rest is a blur. You don't want it to end. I do remember one of his final "the miracle is you" moments - can't forget that one.
So at that point, I was just holding the camera up, hoping it was in focus, but watching the last moments without looking to see if the camera was actually doing what it was supposd to be doing. I got very lucky. I love it when the streamers make it up to the stage.
Barry leaving the stage after the It's A Miracle reprise.
Before the show, some of the ushers had told people not to leave because Barry would be doing an encore. We were all certainly hoping for one. I think everyone was expecting One Voice, but we got something completely different - Give My Regards to Broadway. It was a full production number. There were new images of Broadway behind Barry. Muffy and Kye came forward, and they all did a regular, choreographed number. Just like the grand finale in a Broadway show.
When it was over, Barry started his turn to walk to the back of the stage, but then he turned back to give us a big wave. Then he and Kye put their arms around each other and walked to the back of the stage, as if that were going to be our final view of him.
But then Barry turned again, with a big smile on his face, and as the curtain came down, he kind of rocked backed back and forth as he waved, his own little happy dance. And this is the last thing we saw...
So, how could you really be depressed after that? You couldn't - not for a few minutes at least. You couldn't see the smiling faces of the backups and the band, you couldn't experience that production number that fit into the environment so perfectly... And most of all, you couldn't possibly look at that adorable, joyous grin on Barry's face without feeling the joy yourself. Yeah, the fact that the show was over did sink in eventually - but even when it did, it wasn't nearly as bad as I had feared. The ending of the Paris completely ripped my heart out - but this didn't. Maybe somewhere down that road Barry will do something similar in an intimate little environment like this.
As I left the show, it was snowing - but that just seemed to add to the specialness of the evening. Where I'm from it rarely snows - so as a kid I viewed snow as wondrous and exciting. That's how I felt after this show tonight. We were all fortunate enough to see a magnificent production and an incredible set list - and mostly we saw some of the very best of Barry Manilow. So that snow... That was just the residual magic falling from the sky, adding to the magical evening Barry had promised us at the beginning of the show.
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