Kristin Chenoweth Back on Broadway Where She Definitely Belongs
Kristin Chenoweth Photo by Nellie Beavers
Kristin Chenoweth is the consummate performer with her flawless voice and comedic timing. She masterfully turns any number she sings into a three act play. As the lights go down Kristin is caught in an inside out teeshirt wondering how can they start the show giving her no notice? Fans are encouraged to take pics as she jauntily poses and then tells the audience now put down your cell phones, I do not want to pull a Patti LuPone. The lights go down and the show starts again. This time with Ms. Chenoweth sparkling from head to toe.
The classic “I Am Woman” starts the show with her back-up singers Crystal Monee Hall and Marissa Rosen getting equal time on the song. Adorable lyrics turn w-o-m-a-n into K-r-i-s-t-i-n.
A song I had never heard, Trisha Yearwood’s “The Song Remembers When” was a nice introduction. Songs from Kristin’s album of the same name released September 27th, “You Don’t Own Me”, “The Way We Were”, and “Desperado” were given live renditions.
During the run Kristin has multiple guest stars. For my night the first one was Jenn Gambatese, soon to be seen in the musical adaptation of Mrs. Doubtfire and an ex Glinda. Kristin started the song “Popular”, but generously gave the rest to Ms. Gambatese. Ms. Gambatese was then given her choice to sing any song she wanted and she chose “I Have Confidence” from the film version of The Sound of Music. Though sung well, it was a strange choice.
Ms. Chenoweth’s long time musical director Mary-Mitchell Campbell has written a song called “Blessed (Millenial Song)”, which was then introduced. This song full of hashtags and emojis, is rather quirky.
The first act ended with two of Judy Garland numbers. A wonderful version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and from her album “The Man That Got Away”, brought back memories. It was easy to see how these two performers compare and the differences.
The second act started with Chenoweth holding up vinyl record album of Lena Horn, listing to her on a record player. The record switches from Horne to Chenoweth’s singing “When I Fall In Love” as she raises the album cover “For The Girls”.
For me the best moment of the show came next. A wonderfully comedic and glorious version of Victor Hurbert’s “Art Is Calling For Me” showed off what Kristin does best.
Next another guest spot, this time Sirius radio host Julie James, who brought a lot of audience members with her. Making her Broadway debut Ms. James sang “Sing Happy” From Flora The Red Menace.
A luscious “Beautiful Dreamer” and Tony Bennett’s “I Wanna Be Around” followed.
A heartfelt “Hallelujah” had Kristin singing magnificently the first verse and then giving away the rest to her back up singers and then to Mary-Mitchell Campbell, who really can’t sing. At this point the generosity was going overboard.
“When Angels Land” led to bringing out Ms. James again and stating “If you don’t believe in Jesus the song is over in 4 minutes.” Both Kristin and Ms. James and you can add me, are fans of the Christian singer Sandi Patti. This woman is one fantastic vocalist. The song they chose was “How Great Thou Art”. Annoyingly Kristin sang the first verse and gave the rest, including the ending to Ms. James. Though Ms. James was adequate, she was not Ms. Chenoweth or Ms. Patti. She did not know how to hold the mike and therefore the notes were muddled and blurred.
Karen Carpenter’s “Yesterday Once More,” an inspiring “Reasons For Hope” by Mary-Mitchell Campbell and “I Will Always Love You” ended the show. The audience however was not having that so Chenoweth in a bathrobe holding her dog acappella sang a moving Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile.”
Richard Jay Alexander’s direction was haphazard, the generosity needed to be honed in, but to see Ms. Chenoweth onstage is a delight and worth the price of admission. This girl is a national treasure.
Other guest artists include:
November 15 at 8:00pm: Ginna Claire Mason and CeCe Winans
November 16 at 2:00pm: Jennifer Laura Thompson, Laura Benanti and Tatum Hopkins
November 16 at 8:00pm: Laura Woyasz and Chely Wright
November 17 at 7:00pm: Amanda Jane Cooper, Jessica Vosk, Shoshana Bean, Mario Cantone and Stephen Schwartz
Kristin Chenoweth For the Girls at the Nederlander Theatre, will run for a limited engagement through November 17.
Make sure to catch this.
Broadway’s A Doll’s House Meticulously Stunning Revival Soars Like a Birdie Above That Clumsy Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
For a revival to find its footing, it has to have a point of view or a sense of purpose far beyond an actor’s desire to perform a part, whether it suits them or not. It needs to radiate an idea that will make us want to sit up and pay attention. To feel its need to exist. And on one particular day in March, I was blessed with the opportunity to see not just one grande revival, but two. One was a detailed pulled-apart revolutionary revival of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House that astounded. The other, unfortunately, was a clumsy revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that fell lazily from that high-wired peak – not for a lack of trying, but from a formulation that never found its purpose.
Relevantly Tuneless Fairytale Bad Cinderella Isn’t Bad, It’s Forgettable
You are seriously asking for it, when you make the title for your musical Bad Cinderella, however the show is not bad, it’s just seriously lacking. For an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which is normally rich in melody, the only song that has any kind of hold is “Only You, Lonely You” sung by Prince Sebastian (Jordan Dobson or in my performance the wonderful Julio Ray). The lyrics by David Zippel and book by Emerald Fennell, adapted by Alexis Scheer are inane. It doesn’t help that the cast for the most part speaks and sings with mouths full of cotton. The orchestrations sound tinny and computerized, The lead Linedy Genao has no charisma or vocals that soar musically, instead she is rather nasal, like Bernadette Peters with a cold. Why this show is two and a half hours long is beyond me.
The show is based in a town called Belleville (beautiful town en Francais), that is based solely on looks and prides itself on its superficiality. The opening number starts with “Beauty Is Our Duty,” the Queen (a fabulous Grace McLean) is into her hunks including her missing son Charming (Cameron Loyal).
And the fairy godmother (Christina Acosta Robinson) is a plastic surgeon who sings “Beauty Has a Price”. In a day and age, where we are suppose to see past all that, this show is politically incorrect.
Cinderella a Gothic, and a graffiti artist, naturally does not fit into the town’s mold of beauty, which is how she earns her nickname. Her rebel move happens when she defaces a memorial statue of Sebastian’s older brother, Prince Charming. Sebastian is more of a geek, and he and Cinderella are in the “friend zone,” since both lack communication skills in admitting their love.
Sebastian is being forced by his mother, the Queen to find a wife at a ball and invites Cinderella. Cinderella’s stepmother (the always remarkable Carolee Carmello) blackmails the Queen to get one of her daughters Adele (Sami Gayle) or Marie (Morgan Higgins) the gig.
McLean and Carmello are the bright spots in the show and if the show had been about these two, maybe we would actually have a show that could work. These two steal the show.
Cinderella has not one, but two what should have been show stopping numbers “I Know I Have A Heart (Because You Broke It)” and “Far Too Late,” but she does not have the vocals, the character development or the star power to carry them off.
The set and the revenge porn costumes by Gabriela Tylesova, are just over the top, with the storybook set faring much better than the over complicated flowered pastels that waltzed across the stage.
The direction by Laurence Connor is just dull and lacks oomph.
If you like buff men and Chippendale type choreography this is the show for you.
Bad Cinderella, Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street.
Did You Know There Is A Kander & Ebb Way?
On Friday, March 24th, the 96-year-old John Kander was given a Mayoral Proclamation from Mayor Eric Adams in celebration of the first performance of his new Broadway musical New York, New York. Following the proclamation, Lin-Manuel Miranda unveiled the sign renaming 44th Steet ‘Kander & Ebb Way. On hand was the Manhattan School of Music to performed the iconic Kander & Ebb song “New York, New York.”
New York, New York opens Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at Broadway’s St. James Theatre (246 West 44th Street).
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