Reviews

Melba Moore @ 54 Below ****1/2

By: Patrick Christiano

Melba Moore’s Dynamite new show, From Broadway With Love, @ 54 Below.

March 16, 2024: The marvelous Tony winner Melba Moore is trying out a new show, MELBA MOORE: FROM BROADWAY WITH LOVE, at 54 Below, the intimate supper club in the theater district on 54th Street, just off Broadway.  She will do another performance tonight at 7pm. If you are free and can score a ticket, don’t hesitate. The lady is the real deal with an unbelievable voice and a commanding presence. She lights up the entire room. Her song list is spectacular with an emphasis on highlights from her Broadway Career.

By: Patrick Christiano

Melba Moore’s Dynamite new show, From Broadway With Love, @ 54 Below.

March 16, 2024: The marvelous Tony winner Melba Moore is trying out a new show, MELBA MOORE: FROM BROADWAY WITH LOVE, at 54 Below, the intimate supper club in the theater district on 54th Street, just off Broadway.  She will do another performance tonight at 7pm. If you are free and can score a ticket, don’t hesitate. The lady is the real deal with an unbelievable voice and a commanding presence. She lights up the entire room. Her song list is spectacular with an emphasis on highlights from her Broadway Career.

Early in the evening Moore informed us that they did not have a chance to this new show here at 54 Below, but not to worry. And then we were treated to an amazing evening as the legend worked through the rough spots of putting on a show and gave us a glimpse into her process and inventiveness. She was extraordinary from start to finish with a playfulness that was utterly captivating.  

She opened with a medley from her first Broadway show, Hair, which included “Aquarius,” Easy to Be Hard,” and “Let the Sunshine In.”  On the latter song she had the entire house singing along with her like she was the leader of a choir. It was a marvelous moment early in an evening filled with many marvelous moments. Starting in the chorus of Hair she worked her way up to the lead and became the first Black woman to replace a white woman in a show on Broadway.

Next on Broadway, she was Luttibelle in Purlie, which brought her the Tony Award and much acclaim. Fan response to her during previews prompted the powers to write a song especially for her, which made use of her extraordinary range. The song was “I Got Love,” Singing that song in Purlie, Moore stopped the show night after night. It was one of those rare moments in musical theater history. The birth of a luminous star. I had the pleasure of witnessing this unforgettable moment a dozen times. At 78 the Lady has still got it, utterly amazing.

After a hiatus from Broadway to focus on a successful recording career, Moore returned to Broadway for the role of Fantine in Les Miserables marking another first as a black performer. From that show she performed the heartbreaking, “I Have Dreamed a Dream,” with a haunting emotional depth. 

The highlight of the evening was a tribute to Lena Horne, with “Stormy Weather.”  She pulled out all the stops in a thrilling rendition that wowed the entire room. A lovely arrangement of “I Concentrate on You,” by Cole Porter followed. And she closed out her show with a tribute to Barbra Steisand, who had surprised her with a backstage visit while Moore was in the original run of Purlie. Her tribute was “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” that’s the Moore parade. What a marvelous evening.

Musical director Darnell White was on the keys. Sean Murphy was on bass, and Gregory Bufford was on drums. There is another show tonight at 7pm.