Broadway or Bust….turns out to be the later. With more twists, turns, highs, and lows than a Rocky Mountain highway, last night’s show was more Broadway flop than Broadway showstopper.
Yes, I’m back! After a 2 week hiatus I sat at the table as a clean slate, well rested, and with fresh eyes on the contestants.
And so I ask….What the hell happened while I was away?! Frontrunners in the bottom 3, lackluster performances, and almost everyone trying to be something they are not. Is it the mid-competition blues? Is it the lure of the Great White Way tempting people to stray? I don’t know and I don’t care….time to steer this ship back on course!
We opened with perennial favorite, Larisa Bunch, slaying “I’ll Cover Your (Reprise)” from RENT. Moving the crowd to join in as a fierce back-up chorus, Bunch showed all the performers how it should be done. Did you miss it? Well, you can still catch her at the Haddonfield Ritz’s production of RENT as Joanne.
Last week’s puzzling bottom 3, Tait Gehman, Keely, and De’Soul took to the stage to learn of their fate. Tait took the crowd vote leaving De’Soul to go up against powerhouse Keely, which almost seemed unfair. Singing “Sail,” Keely once again proved that she is not going anywhere anytime soon and then De’Soul did something wonderful. With a look in his eye that showed he was well aware of what was to come, De’Soul delivered the swan song of the century, Whitney Huston’s “I Look to You.” With lyrics that matched perfectly to his journey in this competition, I could not help but get a little choked up. Although we said farewell, I am still so very proud of how far he has come as a performer. Seeing a singer breakout of their shell and start to truly blossom on stage is the greatest joy that a judge/mentor can have. We were all very hard on him this season because we truly believe in his talent and soaring voice. I can’t wait to see what De’Soul will do next (and I hope you are reading this De’Soul….you are wonderful!)
Ok- now on to the show. Jesse Braff did a fantastic job with “The World Goes Round” from New York New York, a song well-known through its performance by Liza Minnelli. A solid way to start. Rob Anthony attempted “Let Me Be Your Star,” a delightful little ditty from Broadway-adjacent TV show and One-Night event SMASH. Swing and a miss! With the Broadway genre now spanning many decades and countless styles, I just can’t understand why performers can’t find the right song. Anything from Rock of Ages, We Will Rock You, In The Heights, etc would have been ideal….but he goes for SMASH. Tait Gehman, fresh off his save, boosted up the energy with “I’m Alive” from Next to Normal. A solid “good” on this one. Dan Callahan continued to be a shining star, as he should be with this week’s theme, when he absolutely blew us out of the water with “As Long as He Needs Me” from Oliver. Still and poised with every last ounce of emotion radiating from his face, Dan gave a pitch perfect, technically astounding, silky smooth performance that would make Judy Garland or Titus Burgess shake a finger and say “YASSSSSSS”. PS- he wins the week! Brianna Roth had the unfortunate task of following that with “Look At Me Now” from the Wild Party. High energy, yes, but a track that just gave away any flaw in her notes while dancing around the stage.
Intermission….and boy I needed it. Broadway week was quickly turning into esoteric Broadway show tunes week. Would I get some Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Sound of Music, Matilda, Book of Mormon, or Pippin in the second act? Not so much. But if you want to see these shows and more, go right here for more details. Groups or 10 or more SAVE! (Shameless plug, but dear God that was happening all last night….time for me to get my due!)
Katie Mae nailed it while opening the second half with “Get Out and Stay Out” from box office stinker, 9 to 5. Chali stepped outside of her normal style with “Hello Young Lovers” from the King and I. Bringing a sexy undertone to a very humble piece and breathing wherever the hell she felt like it, Chali left me puzzled. She was able to silence the audience with a ballad, but I’m not quite sold that they were silent in captivation or puzzlement…..”Is a puzzlement” (quote from The King and I…look it up). Keely continued the awkward Broadway babies with “The Light in the Piazza” from the show of the same title. Singing somewhere in-between her cool jazz sound and Broadway operatic tone, I ask- WHY?! Did she enjoy the rush of being in the bottom 3? Beautiful, HAIR (which she was already dressed for), If/Then, ONCE….any of these shows have a million gems that would have come soaring out of her. Although she did well, I think this is a moment where we are seeing artists start to stray from who they are to try to fit a style….or are just getting tired of pumping out winning number after winning number week after week.
Brittany Marie was “The Life of The Party” as she tackled a technically difficult number from The Wild Party. Really…anyone want to do WICKED? Krista Starr battled for the spotlight with her guitarist as she did an R&B rendition of “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess. However, I give Ms. Starr major credit. She keeps staying true to herself despite the week’s theme. Lisa Parks closed out the show with “Bless The Lord My Soul” from Godspell with a chorus of sway and clap challenged friends behind her. A very fun way to end the night, but not her best vocals to date.
Following her mom- Ellie Parks, from season one, was our guest closer for the evening with “Ain’t No Other Man”….Ain’t no other Ellie is more like it!
So Broadway week was what it was. What else can I say?
The contestants lined up to learn of their fate. Dan Callahan won the night, hands down, and took home a pair of tickets to Matilda the Musical at the Academy of Music (Nov 17-29)….and then the reaping commenced. One by one saved until the bottom 3 of Chali, Rob Anthony, and Brianna Roth were left.
Do you remember when I wrote in one of my early posts that Chali won the Songbird Save? You don’t? Oh well…she did.
This grants her the opportunity to erase the bottom 3, save those folks, and have the judges pick again. And you know what she did?… Yup…she used it.
Well, the songbird save is now gone, never to be used again. Chali, Rob Anthony, and Brianna Roth are all safe and us judges went back to work. Krista Starr, Lisa Parks, and Keely formed the new bottom 3. What a twist. What a night. What a mess.
Winner- Dan Callahan
Bottom 3– Keely, Krista Starr, Lisa Parks
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