Review: Good performances, but JCC revue tries to pack in too much

12:42 PM, Feb 04, 2013

Sandy and Linda Foster created the Encore revues 10 years ago to pay tribute to Jewish-American composers. (Photo provided by JCC)/

Written By Debbie Waltzer

If you go

Encore: Broadway Favorites of the American Songbook.
When: 7 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; and then again Feb. 14 to 17.
Where: Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester, 1200 Edgewood Drive, Brighton.
Cost: $26; $18 for students.
More information: (585) 461-2000 or

Too much of a good thing simply can be too much.

Such is the case with Encore: Broadway Favorites of the American Songbook, currently playing at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester as part of the CenterStage series.

The show, nearly two hours in length, features more than 50 musical numbers by Jewish-American composers, ranging from Jerome Kern and George Gershwin to Marvin Hamlisch and Marc Shaiman. In solos, pairs, trios and full ensembles, six vocalists sing pieces such as “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” “Seasons of Love,” “There is Nothing Like a Dame” and “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.”

It is the 10th anniversary of this revue created by Linda and Sandy Foster, but the volume of work presented is excessive; program editing was insufficient.

That said, compliments must be paid to individual performers for their work as vocalists and actors. A huge shout-out goes to Janine Mercandetti, who nailed “Bali Ha’i” from South Pacific and “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. The woman has a solid, strong voice and confident stage presence.

Kudos also to Linda Foster and Laura Jean Smillie-Diekmann. Foster’s rendition of “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret, and Smillie-Diekmann’s performance of “All That Jazz” from Chicago were particularly strong.

The male performers seemed to take a little longer to warm up. Early on, Jason Alexander Holmes lacked confidence during his duet of “I’ve Got a Crush on You” with Mercandetti. However, his Act Two solo of “Ol’ Man River” was powerful.

Matt Tappon’s energy level also seemed to fluctuate, likely due to the sheer volume of music he was performing. Still, he brought his all to “Isn’t It Romantic” and “If I Were a Rich Man.”

Carl Del Buono could be dubbed the show’s Energizer Bunny. A graduate of the prestigious American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Manhattan, Del Buono knows how to sell a song, and most notably demonstrated that while singing “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story.

Full-ensemble pieces also were the high point of the program. The six-part harmonies employed during “This Nearly Was Mine” from South Pacific made for a dramatic capstone to Act One. Also, “Coffee Break” — recently featured on Broadway from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying — was energetic and fun.

Hats off to the hard-working crew that created this show. But next time, don’t pack as much in. Leave us wanting more.