Eva Noblezada @ Feinstein’s
Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, April 28, 2018
Eva Noblezada is on a fast track indeed. Discovered by a casting director at the 2013 National High School Musical Theatre Awards, she auditioned for Cameron Mackintosh and was cast as Kim in the West End production of Miss Saigon. A plum role as Éponine in the West End production of Les Misérables in April 2016 followed. Reprising her role in Miss Saigon for a limited Broadway run in 2017 won her a Tony award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. After her sold-out Feinstein debut, it’s evident why Noblezada’s star is on the rise – this kid is packed with talent.
At 22, Noblezada projects a stage persona and vocal style that belies her youth. You may call her an old soul with a millennial’s contemporary edge. Her set contained tunes from Broadway shows of course, but also gave nod to her personal faves and the Great American songbook. By the second song, “When I Look at You” (Frank Wildhorn / Nan Knighton) from Scarlet Pimpernel, I was sold on the talent part. Eva has a gorgeous instrument; perfect phrasing, pitch, inflection, the whole shebang. Just the correct amount of theatrical emoting enhances her performance.
Right up front she forewarned the audience that she ‘swears like a sailor’, and it was refreshing to hear a young person talk like one. She mentioned her struggles with bulimia during the Miss Saigon run before launching into a rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good. She would later perform Winehouse’s “Me & Mr. Jones” in Amy’s bluesy vocal style.
Bob Dylan’s much recorded love song “Make You Feel My Love” is beautiful in its overwhelming gentleness and simplicity of the lyric. Another set highlight was a tribute to her husband with an epic cover of “Dancing’ by Elisa. Noblezada has a knack for stripping the emotion out of a ballad and laying it bare and raw. It’s a great skill to have and will serve her well. A mashup of two more contemporary peers, Birdie (“Beautiful Eyes”) and Lana del Ray (“Young and Beautiful”), displays a performer wiser than her years and willing to expose her vulnerability.
But it wasn’t all seriously aching love songs. Her Deva medley (get it, D-Eva, not Diva) included roles she should play with a few bars from: The Wild Party, Wicked, Les Miserable, Hamilton, In the Heights, The Drowsy Chaperone, Cabaret, and even Yentyl. Sure, she can do all that easily. I’d like to see her create her own star role on Broadway, and soon.