BWW Reviews: Jason Robert Brown Performs at Fund-Raiser for Columbia's Red Branch Theatre Company
Last week was "Jason Robert Brown Week" in Maryland. First Brown assisted young aspiring performers, "Young Artist of America" perform his SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD at Churchill High School in Potomac, MD. on March 15 and 16, 2014. He conducted the orchestra and also did some piano work.
Then, one day later, just up the street, he was center stage in Columbia MD on March 17 for a fund-raiser for the Red Branch Theatre Company in a program entitled "I Could Be In Love With Someone Like You". And did I mention he has a musical on Broadway - THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY? The theater is located in an industrial park, not unlike the New Haven home of the Long Wharf Theatre.
But what magic occurs in this little 100 seat space which is celebrating its sixth season and is not afraid to specialize in musicals.
Followng a tasty dinner provided by the Iron Bridge Wine Company, Brown took center stage sitting at the piano. He had no music, just a list of songs. He opened his one hour show with a song from his CD "Wearing Someone Else's Clothes", "I Could Be In Love With Someone Like You". He admitted he had not performed in a setting like this one in over a year and a half.
Brown's musical HONEYMOON IN VEGAS was recently given a wonderful production at the Paper Mill Playhouse and is heading soon to Broadway. I loved it. He sang the clever opening number "I Love Betsy".
A song he was asked to write for a wedding was next, "Hey Now" which featured some wonderful piano. There was thurnderous applause.
Brown mentioned that his BRIDGES AT MADISON COUNTY is now on Broadway which "is only a short train ride away and good seats are available." He performed the lovely ballad "Sliding Down the Mountain".
His next number he admitted he had not performed in a long time from his SONGS FROM A NEW WORLD,
"The River Won't Flow", the first song he wrote for that show.
Red Branch Theatre will be presenting Brown's THE LAST FIVE YEARS from April 4 to May 3 (along with the musical JOHN AND JEN. Jennifer Culotta had the challenging task of singing a number from the show where she will be playing the role of "Cathy". She did a wonderful job with "I'm a Part of That".
The first JRB show I ever saw was PARADE at Lincoln Center which Brown won a Tony Award for. I'll never forget it. Brown sang the haunting "The Old Red Hills Of Home".
Next was "Being a Geek" from Brown's "13 THE MUSICAL" followed by another gorgeous ballad from MADISON COUNTY, "Your Wondering What That Was."
Members of the cast of THE LAST FIVE YEARS and JOHN AND JEN then joined Brown on stage for the Al Green inspired "Caravan of Angels".
Brown then did another song from THE LAST FIVE YEARS, "Moving Too Fast". This brought another huge ovation. He also mentioned he's seen the film and is very pleased with it.
Red Branch Theatre Company Artistic Director Stephanie Lynn Williams then took center stage to sing Brown's poignant "Hear My Song", another from SONGS FROM A NEW WORLD.
Brown's encore again came from his CD "Wearing Someone Else's Clothes", the lovely "Someone To Fall Back On".
Following the performance, Brown then entertained questions from the audience. He assured those in attendance that his HONEYMOON IN VEGAS has the necessary funding and is just waiting for an appropriate theater to become availabble.
What a night it was. Certainly a night to remember.
For more information on the Red Branch Theatre Company, visit www.redbranchtheatrecompany.com. I will be back.