Beyond the hustle and squeaks of the softball and basketball contests being played on the court at Kendrick Recreation Center, there was a more intimate gathering being held in another room on Friday night. It was the third in a series of performances called ‘Broadway Rox,’ a showcase of local talent in Roxborough.
Friday’s performance was themed ‘The Crooners’ and featured a medley of well-known pop standards. The series, which began on June 30, is the brainchild of Roxborough’s Ryan Tygh and his partner Maggie Cummings. The goal is to get residents out to support a worthy cause.
“Next door to this room, there is a theater space with room for 400 seats that has not been used in a decade,” said Tygh, performing that evening as Master of Ceremonies.
After the show, guests got a chance to view the theater space. The proscenium arch and stage are still intact and in good condition. After theater was no longer a going concern, the space was used for teaching the sport of Boxing. Much of the equipment and ring were still assembled on the stage.
“I think that is criminal to have that resource just wasting away. Your donations will help fix the room up and give neighborhood kids something to do,” said Tygh.
Many of the performers on Friday night were new to this particular concert series and came from the nearby neighborhoods. Lindsay McFarlane belted out a rousing version of the classic ‘New York, New York’; but it was another more well-known golden throat who stole the show. Brian McKay, mid-day personality at 92.5 WXTU FM, brought the house down with “Luck Be A Lady” from ‘Guys and Dolls.’
By the late 1950s, popular music became dominated by other styles, especially rock ‘n’ roll, while the music of latter-day crooners such as Perry Como and Matt Monro were re-categorized or rebranded as easy listening or adult contemporary. Many other well-known crooners such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Dick Powell incorporated other popular styles into their music, such as blues, Dixieland and even native Hawaiian music.
Crooners have remained popular among fans of traditional pop music with contemporary performers such as Tony Bennett, Barry Manilow, Michael Stipe, Harry Connick, Jr. and Michael Buble’ keeping the form alive. There are plenty of satellite radio channels dedicated to playing strictly pop standards today.
Like many of Friday’s performers, McKay found the Roxborough-based performance troupe on his own. McKay said he saw an advertisement in the Theater Alliance listing and found that the rehearsals, (of which there were only two) and performance fit in his schedule. McKay said he would also like to be part of the Broadway Rox Christmas Show.
“This is a great group,” said McKay. “Ryan and Maggie, they’re going to do great things for this community.”