I have been a fan of Jennifer Simard since I saw her in Forbidden Broadway and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. It has been thrilling to see her working so consistently. Her new one-woman show Jennifer Simard: Can I Get Your Number? is beautifully-crafted. You see another side of Ms. Simard that you will not expect. This woman has chops and I don’t just mean comedic ones. Play so many supporting roles on Broadway she saluted those “legendary” women who were her role models. The songs were dedicated to her co-stars, but she made many of these songs her own.
Coming through the audience Jennifer Hudson’s “One Night Only” from Dreamgirls, had Jennifer sliding down a banister that was two stairs long. Comedy was definitely present.
Playing tribute to her first goddess was “More to the Story”, a cut number from Shrek for her co-star, Sutton Foster. Guest star, fellow Shrek and Company cast member, Christopher Seiber. These two are comedic genius together.
In Hello, Dolly! she worked with leading lady, Bernadette Peters and paid tribute to her with “Broadway Baby.” and then “Unexpected Song” from Song & Dance a song she sang at a gala honoring Bernadette.
Paying tribute to her Horace Vandergelder, Victor Garber we were treated to “All For the Best” from Godspell. Jennifer and her brother, who was in the audience every Sunday, listened to the cast album. Joining Jennifer was her music director Steve Marzullo, as she used sandpaper, coconuts and a slide whistle to keep it real.
“Two Kinsmen” from The Mystery of Edwin Drood, “gave us her tribute to Betty Buckley, was became her superfan during the run of Disaster. Marzullo, again gave us the second part of the duet.
“Sons Of” from Jacques Brel not only honored the patriots fighting in Ukraine but to pay tribute to her Hello Dolly! co-star, Donna Murphy. Murphy’s late husband, Shawn Elliott, was in the original cast of Jacques Brel. Paying tribute to her final Dolly was the anthem “Before the Parade Passes By.”
What Ms. Simard showed all night was her incredible vocal range now came out the comedy in Michael Devon’s “Hurt Someone’s Feelings Today.”
My favorite number of the entire night was Madeline Kahn’s “Never” from On the Twentieth Century. It was sung just like Madeline and it was brilliant.
With the lyricist/librettist Joe DiPietro, in the audience “I Will Be Loved Tonight” from I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, became even more special.
Jennifer was nominated for a Tony for her role of Sarah in the revival of Company. Sitting at my table was the original SarahBarbara Barrie. Jennifer went on several times for Patti LuPone. Having missed those performances we were treated to a fabulously done “The Ladies Who Lunch”.
“Never Can Say Goodbye,” from Disaster, led to an encore of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Edelweiss” sand not only by Jennifer but the entire audience.
I brought with me a person who doesn’t know musical theatre at all and because of seeing Jennifer’s show Elisabeta wants to see more. That is the best review I can write. A true artist brings in new admirers and Jennifer does just that. Bravo!
If you get a chance catch this talented performer in concert, but that might be awhile as Jennifer is going into Once Upon a One More Time The Britney Spears musical. Visit Jennifer’s website jennifersimard.com, or follow her @thejennifersimard on Instagram.
If the song is missing, click on the blue links and you can hear clips of them all.
Countdown to Christmas: For The Dancer and Theatre Lover Chita Rivera
2o days to go! Every year people panic to find the perfect gift. We at T2C have been collecting idea’s all year long to bring you the perfect gift guide at all price levels. When you’re at the end of your rope trying to find the perfect Christmas present this year, come to this guide for some great suggestions.
There are a lot of books out there this year but we highly recommend Chita: A Memoir , the critically-acclaimed book is written by the legendary Broadway icon Chita Rivera with arts journalist Patrick Pacheco. Chita takes fans behind-the-scenes of all her shows and cabaret acts, she shares candid stories of her many colleagues, friends, and lovers. She speaks with empathy and hindsight of her deep associations with complicated geniuses like Fosse and Robbins, as well as with the mega-talent Liza Minnelli, with whom she co-starred in The Rink. She openly discusses her affair with Sammy Davis, Jr. as well as her marriage to Tony Mordente and her subsequent off-the-radar relationships. Chita revisits the terrible car accident that threatened to end her career as a dancer forever. Center stage to Chita’s story are John Kander and Fred Ebb, the songwriters and dear friends indelibly tied to her career through some of her most enduring work: Chicago, The Rink, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and The Visit.
Chita’s love of performing began as a child in Washington, D.C., when her mother enrolled her in a local ballet school to channel her boundless energy. Still a teenager, she moved to New York to attend the School of American Ballet after an audition for George Balanchine himself and winning a scholarship. But Broadway beckoned, and by twenty she was appearing in the choruses of Golden Age shows like Guys and Dolls and Can-Can. In the latter, she received special encouragement from its star Gwen Verdon, forging a personal and professional friendship that would help shape her career. The groundbreaking West Side Story brought her into the orbit of Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, Hal Prince, and Stephen Sondheim. After Bye Bye Birdie further burnished her rising star, she reunited with Verdon and her then-husband Bob Fosse to work on the film version of Sweet Charity and the celebrated original Broadway production of Chicago.
Chita: A Memoir was published in English and Spanish and the English audio version of the Memoir was recorded by Chita. A Spanish audio version is also available.
“Chita Rivera blazed a trail where none existed so the rest of us could see a path forward. She has been part of some of the greatest musicals in the history of the form, from Anita in the trailblazing West Side Story through Claire Zachanassian in the underrated masterpiece The Visit, over 60 years later. She is a Puerto Rican Broadway icon and the original ‘triple threat.’ We’re so lucky to be alive in the same timeline as Chita Rivera.” — Lin-Manuel Miranda.
“A frank and fascinating memoir from one of the truly great artists of the American Theater. Lots of stories … Lots of insight … and quite a few caustic statements from Chita’s alter ego, Dolores. An illuminating history and a guaranteed pleasure!” — John Kander
Broadway legend and national treasure Chita Rivera, multi-Tony Award winner, Kennedy Center honoree, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom – has taken no prisoners on stage or screen for seven decades. From her trailblazing performance as the original Anita in West Side Story—for which she tapped her own Puerto Rican roots—to her haunting 2015 star turn in The Visit. Chita has proven to be much more than just a captivating dancer, singer, and actress beloved by audiences and casts alike. In her equally captivating and one-of-a-kind memoir, Written with Patrick Pacheco, the woman born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero shares an incomparable life, both on stage and behind the curtain.
By the way this Memoir has won a Gold Medal for “Best Autobiography – English” at the 2023 International Latino Book Awards. https://www.latinobookawards.org/
Click here to buy your copy.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Spamalot
Here is the amazing cast of Spamalot. Christopher Fitzgerald as Patsy, James Monroe Iglehart as King Arthur, Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer as The Lady of the Lake, Ethan Slater as The Historian/Prince Herbert, Jimmy Smagula as Sir Bedevere, Michael Urie as Sir Robin, Nik Walker as Sir Galahad and Taran Killam as Lancelot.
I was so inspired I drew the whole cast.
To read T2C’s review click here.
Ahead of the Broadway Opening of Lempicka The Longacre Theatre Is Showcasing Art Work By Tamara de Lempicka
The Longacre Theatre (220 W 48th St.), soon-to-be home of the sweeping new musical, Lempicka, is showcasing a curated selection of renowned artist Tamara de Lempicka’s most famous works. Eschewing traditional theatrical front-of-house advertising, the Longacre’s façade now boasts prints, creating a museum-quality exhibition right in the heart of Times Square. The musical opens on Broadway on April 14, 2024 at the same venue.
The Longacre’s outdoor exhibition includes works of Self Portrait (Tamara in a Green Bugatti) (1929), Young Girl in Green (1927), Nu Adossé I (1925), The Red Tunic (1927), The Blue Scarf (1930), The Green Turban (1930), Portrait of Marjorie Ferry (1932), Portrait of Ira P. (1930), Portrait of Romana de la Salle (1928), and Adam and Eve (1932).
Starring Eden Espinosa and directed by Tony Award winner Rachel Chavkin, Lempicka features book, lyrics, and original concept by Carson Kreitzer, book and music by Matt Gould, and choreography by Raja Feather Kelly.
Spanning decades of political and personal turmoil and told through a thrilling, pop-infused score, Lempicka boldly explores the contradictions of a world in crisis, a woman ahead of her era, and an artist whose time has finally come.
Young Girl in Green painted by Tamara de Lempicka (1927). Oil on plywood.