The NYTimes waxes rhapsodic about the performers — “It happens to a critic — at least to this one — every two years or so: during a performance lightning strikes. As the electricity circulates, you find yourself transported to a rapturous plane where nothing else matters but the moment of the singer and the song.”
Playbill.com has a charming Newlywed Game-style interview with Victoria Clark and Ted Sperling who are presenting the Vicki and Ted Show at Feinstein’s: “Any time I am singing onstage and see Ted conducting in the pit, I feel better. I have a good feeling in my gut — I know I am home. He has that effect on lots of people, not just me, but I would like to just put it out there and say, hey, I knew him when, and he has always made me feel better when he is in the rehearsal room or in the orchestra pit or onstage next to us. Sometimes, it is scary, he knows me so well, he already knows where I am going to breathe, and working on this show, we are finding when we sing together, we can anticipate all kinds of things like breaths, phrasing, etc. We are sort of mind-melded! Vulcan ancestry I guess.”
The NYTimes comments on the duo’s recent Cole Porter concert: “The sight of Victoria Clark and David Hyde Pierce portraying 1930s Manhattan socialites in the breezy Cole Porter revue that opened the 11th season of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series on Wednesday evening came with a frisson of anxiety. As this blithely sophisticated couple in formal dress poured martinis from a shaker and sang airy Porter standards like “It’s De-Lovely,” thoughts of the Great Depression lurked in the background.”
At a number of occasions during Victoria Clark’s bravura concert at the Kennedy Center tonight, I felt I must have had a very odd expression on my face: I was often misting up because I was so moved by what she was singing, but I also had a goofy grin because I was enjoying her so much as a performer.
Clark is an amazing performer. She provides an interesting contrast to Betty Buckley’s* recent outing; while Buckley has the ability to make fairly simple things seem thrilling, Clark’s genius is to pare down what she’s dealing with to make even the most complex material seem simple, cogent, and straightforward. She has so much accumulated technique in so many areas that she deploys with such ease and offhandedness. And she wraps it all up in a warm, approachable package.
The only reasonable quibble** I have with the show is that I wish she had done the title song from her CD, Fifteen Seconds of Grace. I was also surprised that the Jeff Blumenkrantz spot went to the song Toll rather than I Won’t Mind. I’ll link to my official review from Cabaret Scenes when it’s available. (Here it is.)
As a side note, it was nice that Clark and music director Ted Sperling, who met at Yale, acknowledged fellow Eli Buzz Mauro, he of the wonderful Theatre Lab, during the show.
Here’s the song selection:
- Before the Parade Passes By
- How Can I Keep From Singing?
- Pack Up Your Sins and Go to the Devil
- What More Do I Need
- Swinging Song / Thomas
- Autumn (Ted Sperling Solo — from Titanic)
- In Buddy’s Eyes
- Just an Ordinary Guy
- I Got Lost in His Arms
- Our Time
- They Say It’s Wonderful (Encore)
- On My Way to You (Second encore)
*Interestingly both performers had featured roles in last summer’s movie The Happenning.
**OK, I thought that Before the Parade Passes By was an odd opener, particularly with her arrangement, and she seemed to need that opener to find her footing on stage.
One of the concerts I’ve been looking forward to the most this year is Victoria Clark’s appearance at the Kennedy Center December 6 as part of Barbara Cook Presents series.
I’ve found myself with one-degree-of-separation from Clark on several fronts:* Alex Tang was a classmate of hers at Yale, Barry Dennen did Sound of Music with her in St. Louis, Alex Rybeck has played for her frequently. But in a direct experience, her Fifteen Seconds of Grace was one of my favorite CDs of 2007. And the Jeff Blumenkrantz podcast with her is charming.
I’m surprised that there are still tix left for the show, so thought you’d like to know now.
*Though it hasn’t helped me get her to do an interview for this blog.
I caught the movie The Happening and liked it more than the reviewers did. Not only is the occasionally scary Betty Buckley consistently weird and scary in the film, but the wonderful Victoria (Light in the Piazza) Clark is lovely and wonderful in the movie as well.
The Times on the recent Victoria Clark engagement. “You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl. … fundamental true grit that smacks of her hometown, Dallas, seeps through her impeccable musical training. ”
I still say her CD, 15 Seconds of Grace, is one of the best recordings of the year.
I love Victoria Clark’s new CD . There’s an amazing variety of material, however it’s all filtererd through a consistent sensibility by an artist who has something to say. The stories are brilliantly communicated and the whole affair is beautifully sung.
The CD also makes me ponder the fact that the audience experience is a fickle thing. Before Light in the Piazza, my main memory of Clark was that she was the element of the Patti LuPone/George Hearn Sweeney Todd DVD that was disappointing, since she was playing the Beggar Woman in lieu of Audra MacDonald who had done the previous concert version. Reviewing my iTunes database, though, I see that Clark has really had a solid career, from It’s a Grand Night for Singing, to How to Succeed in Business and Titanic. But it’s not until seeing her in The Light in the Piazza, that I really got her as a performer. And that performance influences both my feeling about her previous work and it makes me more disposed to her post-Piazza work. Interesting.
Unless something amazing gets released in the next 6 weeks, I’d call this the most satisfying solo cabaret CD of 2007.
Here are the tracks:
How Can I Keep From Singing?
It Might Be You
Swinging Song / Thomas
Someone to Cook For
Life Is But a Dream
Something’s Gotta Give
Right as the Rain
Before the Parade Passes By
Fifteen Seconds of Grace
The Red Dress
I Got Lost in His Arms
PS Classics has an interesting offer. They have a pre-release price for a package of CDs by Victoria Clark (star of The Light in the Piazza), Andrea Burns, and Lauren Kennedy for $39.95. For another ten bucks, you can throw in the new(?) recording Jonathan sings Larson, posthumously released demo tracks recorded by Jonathan Larson (Rent).