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'Manilow Broadway' review: Barry brings the hits, and plenty of nostalgia

Barry Manilow in "Manilow Broadway"

Barry Manilow in "Manilow Broadway" Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

'Manilow Broadway' runs through Aug. 17 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. 205 W. 46th St., ticketmaster.com.

With glow sticks, singalongs and nostalgia to spare, there is really nothing quite like a Barry Manilow concert.

The icon's multiweek engagement (which follows a successful Broadway run in 2013) brings an end to a series of summertime concerts at the Lunt-Fontanne featuring a diverse array of music and stand-up artists: Dave Chappelle, Criss Angel, Regina Spektor, Mel Brooks, Yanni and Morrissey have previously taken the stage. Come fall, the theater will reopen with “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.”

Backed by widescreen video projections, a large band and a piano — which he occasionally played himself — Manilow took the stage on Tuesday night in a glittery blue jacket (the first of several flashy ensembles) and with a warm, welcoming attitude.

Manilow’s voice had sounded rough in recent press interviews, which made me wonder whether the 76-year-old showman was up for the gig. But it did not take long for Manilow to hit his groove, building rapport with the supportive audience with schmaltzy humor and nostalgia. The star smoothly glided through his repertory of standards and Top 40 hits, from "Mandy" to "Looks Like We Made It," breezing through all those long and sustained concluding notes.

At one point, in between self-celebratory bits of banter, Manilow bemoaned the lack of melody in today’s pop hits, which probably helps explain the enduring appeal of his catchy songs. I still have the melody of “Copacabana” in my head as I write this review. I might even be singing it now, even as people at work stare at me as if I am a lunatic.

Unsurprisingly, Manilow made a point of plugging his newest album, “This Is My Town: Songs of New York,” which is actually well-suited to this particular engagement. Manilow also performed his arrangement of the Broadway ballad “Memory,” which was strangely timely given the recent unveiling of the “Cats” movie trailer.

More surprisingly, Manilow made no mention of “Harmony,” an original musical he co-wrote that has long been in development and may finally get produced in New York next year. Wouldn’t this have been an ideal time to bring up “Harmony” and maybe even introduce a song or two? Or did Manilow figure that his audience wasn't interested?

On the whole, the star's performance made for a pleasant and comforting experience. 

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