|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.