No night out on the town on tap this Valentine’s weekend with your special sweetie? Order delivery from your favorite restaurant instead, and then snuggle up to enjoy a free virtual concert with a “bouquet” of tunes from many of your favorite area performers, in the Playhouse's “From Broadway With Love.”
While not every one of the 16 song choices was a home run, the evening gave some performers who don’t always get leads or solos a chance to spread their wings.
It was a family affair with Sarah Lawrence, Cal Metts and their adorable daughter Gigi singing two songs from “The Secret Garden.” Gigi gave a charming performance with the Mary Lennox solo, “The Girl I Mean to Be.” Lawrence and Metts sang the heart-breaking “How Could I Ever Know,” wonderfully suited to their operatic voices in this powerful duet.
Opera singers, and also married in real-life, Vicki Fingalson and Jeff Madison, had fun with the Lerner and Loewe tune,” “I Remember It Well,” from the classic musical “Gigi.” The duo showed the song’s lovely mix of the comic and sweet, in the memory a couple has of their long-ago first date that each recalls quite differently.
“In Whatever Time We Have” from “Children of Eden” gave Andy Kust and Shad Olsen a showcase for their strong voices, with a beautiful blend in this duet. Kust also played keyboard for their song. Kust was the musical director and accompanist for most of the performances in the concert. Playhouse audiences know Olsen from many leads in Playhouse musicals over the last several years.
The evening featured many powerful male and female solos as well, from mostly lesser known musicals. “I’ll Be Here” from “Ordinary Days,” a small Off-Broadway musical, was Christina Stroup’s beautiful contribution. Have a Kleenex handy for this sad story of lost love.
Known best to Playhouse audiences as Donna in “Mamma Mia,” Jen Burleigh-Bentz sang a standout song from the show, “The Winner Takes It All.” As a professional actress, she played Tanya in the Broadway production of “Mamma Mia,” and has also performed at the Ordway, the Guthrie, and at a number of other regional theaters, as well as in national tours.
Andy Roemhildt masterfully handled “Marry Me a Little,” one of the songs from Stephen Sondheim’s “Company.” In a song from a little-known musical, “The Mad Ones,” Ole Dack’s solo “Run Away With Me” showed his confident and relaxed style.
In what was decidedly the soulful highlight of the night, Brandon A. Jackson belted “Love is on the Way.” While not from a Broadway show, the song was written by Billy Porter, Broadway actor, singer, and TV star in the series “Pose.” Jackson deserves to have to have his own cabaret show soon.
As most area theaters continue to remain closed, the virtual “concert-style” performances have been a welcome way for audiences to enjoy the talents of many of the fabulous performers we are lucky enough to have in our community.
If You ‘Go’
What: The Duluth Playhouse presents “From Broadway with Love”
Where/When: Streaming online on youtube.com or facebook.com February 12 through February 14
Cost: Free—Making a contribution will help them prepare for their re-opening. Contribute at www.duluthplayhouse.org/support/
Sheryl Jensen is a former teacher, magazine editor and director. She reviews theater for the News Tribune.