Steve Murray

Performing Arts Reviews

Jason Faith

Faith Prince and Jason Graae in “The Prince and the Show Boy”

Live at the Orinda presents…

Faith Prince and Jason Graae in “The Prince and the Show Boy”

Orinda Theatre, Orinda, California, November 10, 2019

 

Pairing two giants of stage, screen and cabaret depends on the chemistry of the pair, and these two longtime pals ooze camaraderie and intimacy that makes for a compelling, highly enjoyable evening of song and banter. Right from the special-lyric opening of songs inserting their names,  (Chasin’ for Jason, Face and Faith) the two work their special magic in duets like The Book of Mormon’s “You and Me, But Mostly Me” and a heartfelt tribute to their friend Jerry Herman (“Bosom Buddies”, “Open a New Window”, “Before the Parade Passes By”).  Working together in several shows as well as both attending the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music has cemented their friendship and it shows throughout this showcase of their talents, wit and charm.

Prince is the Tony, Drama Desk an Outer Critics Circle awards winner for her performance in Guys and Dolls as well as similar nominations for 2008’s A Catered Affair and Tony noms for Bells are Ringing and Jerome Robbins Broadway. Her TV credits are numerous (Law & Order, Modern Family, Drop Dead Diva, Huff, Spin City and more), her solo concerts and albums critically acclaimed. Singing of the lonely life on the road in “Sweet Kentucky Ham”, Prince can be intimate and poignant, then sarcastic and brassy on the jilted lover of “Crossword Puzzle” from the 1977 off-Broadway musical revue Starting Here, Starting Now with lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. and music by David Shire.

Jason Graae is a beloved Bay Area performer, soon to be reprising his Theatre Bay Area Best Actor in a Musical role as Scrooge in Scrooge in Love at 42nd Street Moon this December. He’s recently finished a year and a half run as the Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the national touring production of Wicked. A gifted comic actor, Graae chides Musical Director John Bowsell throughout Wicked’s narcissistic “Popular” and renders a hilarious take on the over-maudlin, too often included “My Funny Valentine”. Quick witted, Graae is a joy with his on-the-spot banter and intimate anecdotes.

The two combined on a lovely rendition of “Smile”, Prince handling the vocals and Graae accompanying on the oboe (is there anything this man can’t do?), as well as “A Little Bit Off” also from Starting Here, Starting Now. Graae’s poignant coming out to his mother story is supported by a forceful declaration of self-identity on La Cage Aux Folles “I Am What I Am”.  Prince shows off her comic side with Stephen Sondheim and Mary Rodgers’ hilarious wordsmithing on “The Boy From….”, a playful twist on” The Girl from Ipanema” from the musical revue The Mad Show. The two worked on William Finn‘s Falsettos and from that show we get Jason’s tender “What More Can I Say” and Faith’s “Holding to the Ground”, speaking to life’s ever-changing plans.

Accompanied by the very lyrical John Boswell on piano, Graae and Prince blend their voices into seamless harmony on the duets and effortlessly showcase their individual talents. Together, as in their finale of Monty Python’s “Brighter Side of Life”/ “Nowadays”, magic was made.

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