One Night Only Report & Photos: Deborah Voigt in VOIGT LESSONS at the 92nd Street Y
There was a seismic event and emotional roller coaster onstage Thursday night at the 92nd Street Y, in the Kaufmann Concert Hall theatre. Her name is DEBBIE ..... Deborah Voigt. It was the first performance in New York City of a piece called VOIGT LESSONS. The piece was co-created by Voigt, Terrence McNally and Francesca Zambello, years ago, at Glimmerglass and the diva told us that it has been performed "very few times, let alone in New York City." The crowd proceeded to go crazy. The piece- so simple, yet brilliantly calibrated.
With Kevin Stites at the piano and under the skillful guidance of director Richard Jay-Alexander, the evening unfolded, before your very eyes, as this world renown Opera Star told her story and sang her songs. It also looked and sounded amazing. At the very top of the show, the star tells us, "I don't know what you're expecting, but ...." and it's OFF TO THE RACES! Her love for The Carpenters, her love for Musical Theatre, her accidental Classical Career and the un-named 'Mr. Wonderful', with whom she spent 20 years of her life. With her mother in the audience, she bravely went through her story and vocal colors, using everything in her body to communicate with us. She is immediately likable and is funny and heart-breaking, all at once. One can also see that she has the skills to be a fine actress. She tells it all - growing up, the addictions, the alcohol, the unhappiness, the frustration and was brutally honest with us.
And, yes, "THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS" ... or, as she calls it, "the dress size heard 'round the world." It's rare that an evening like this didn't get sappy or too "performed." She hit just the right notes ... and there is big payoff, as the audience showed her with an astonishingly long and well-deserved standing ovation. We leave, having learned MANY "Voigt Lessons" .... many learned the hard way. It's inspiring, though, and VOIGT LESSONS will surely have a life. It is definitely worth seeing and spending 90 minutes with this unique woman.
The timing of doing this in New York was very well planned with her new book CALL ME DEBBIE just hitting the shelves a few weeks ago. The audience had the opportunity to buy the book in the lobby and have it signed by her after the show. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be worth mentioning, but because so many people bought the book and stood on line to meet her, it was a pretty amazing sight to see.
This show is a thoroughly engaging hybrid of entertainment and an extraordinary opportunity to see a big star in an intimate setting. The stage was beautifully lit by Matt Berman, in a way that emotionally supported what was going on. As a result, what Ms. Voigt accomplished with her team of Stites and Jay-Alexander never got boring or rudimentary in formula.
Photos by Richard Termine