Category Archive for: ‘Steve Murray’

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Laura Benanti- Tales from Soprano Isle

Laura Benanti is on a roll, a very big roll. She just starred in the critically acclaimed Broadway revival of She Loves Me for which she received a 2016 Tony Award Nomination, Drama Desk Award Nomination, Outer Critic’s Circle Award Nomination and Drama League Distinguished Performance Award Nomination. She’s been on major hit TV shows, been nominated for 5 Tony Awards and won the 2008 Tony Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award for her portrayal of Gypsy Rose Lee in Gypsy, opposite Patti LuPone.  It’s a career trajectory that most performers would kill for. Add to that resume ‘internet sensation’ after her hilarious viral video spoof of Melania Trump on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show  topped 8 million views. Oh, and after this funny, poignant and beautifully performed show, she’s a cabaret star as well.

Benanti opened with a medley from She Loves Me, “Tonight at 8”, “Dear Friend” and the delightful “Ice Cream”, showcasing her remarkable vocal range. Benanti follows in the footsteps of two other wonderful sopranos have played the role of Amalia, Barbara Cook and Judy Kuhn. In addition, Laura sang the title tune from Sound of Music, a role she played in a Broadway revival in 1999, of course following Julie Andrews Oscar-winning 1964 film adaptation. I reference these other leading lady sopranos only as a comparison, a bar to judge by. Benanti sees the bar, and raises it. She’s holding all the aces.

Laura's spot on spoof of Melania Trump on Stephen Colbert's Late Show.

Laura’s spot on spoof of Melania Trump on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show.

Funny? Benanti has that covered – with self-deprecating humor and a hilarious story involving a prop related groin injury, an ice pack and Patti Lupone displaying her charm and openness. Smart? Yup, her set list included beautifully selected material from her faves; Joni Mitchell’s love triangle “He Comes for Conversation”, Harry Chapin’s “Remember When the Music”, and Tori Amos’ emotionally painful “Hey Jupiter”.   She knows how to take these brilliant lyricists, wrap her voice around the meanings and deliver a stunning interpretation. Uber-talented? Certainly. Benanti’s voice is clear, distinct and technically perfect. She and musical director/pianist/backup vocalist Todd Almond meld together seamlessly. She closed the show with a touching a cappella rendition of “A Quiet Thing,” from Flora the Red Menace.

Benanti is a special gift that comes around every once in a blue moon. She’s the total package and this show is another golden notch in her ever growing repertoire.

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