Monday, February 13, 2012

Laura Benanti: It's Just Not Fair

Laura Benanti performed at the Allen Room this past weekend in her offering in the American Songbook series.  Unquestionably, she has an incredible voice.  What I did not realize was that she is really funny, goofy and lovable.  She is also absolutely beautiful and has a drop-dead-gorgeous husband (Steven Pasquale) who can sing (he was there but sadly did not sing no matter how much we all silently wished it to happen).  Really when the Gods were handing out things she went back for seconds and maybe even thirds.  Yet somehow I can put my personal jealousy aside because she made her concert so damn enjoyable. 
View from the Allen Room

In a cute short electric blue dress and sensible sparkly flats ("because they are more comfortable") she sang her heart out, engaged in cabaret banter and achieved the impossible--including Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer in the American Songbook.   Her set list started out as more traditional than Gavin Creel's when he performed at the Allen Room last weekend.  Her musical accompaniment was also more stripped down than Gavin's--it was just her collaborator and BFF Mary-Mitchell Campbell on piano.

But Benanti filled the hall with her voice and you did not need more than that.  She opened with Broadway Baby.  She shared her NYU audition medley ("Naughty Baby" and "One More Kiss") and performed it as if she was an awkward 17 year old. She told stories about growing up, her family and got teary a few times.  She sang a couple of songs from Sound of Music, a song from Nine ("Unusual Way") and "Lovesick" from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

The biggest surprise was the large medley she put together where she included such disparate songs as "Bad Romance," "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats," "Ebony & Ivory," "Wannabe," "U Can't Touch This," "Ice Ice Baby" and "Private Dancer."  She had some funny props for the medley.  She goofed around with a Dylan impersonation ("The Times They Are a-Changin'") and some classic 80's dance-moves. 

Laura Benanti is absolutely a delight to see in concert and if she's ever performing nearby I recommend checking her out.


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