BWW Review: In Rockport Concert, Faith Prince Shows a Lot of Heart
Faith Prince: Total Faith
Alex Rybeck, Piano/Music Director
Presented on August 25 by Rockport Music at Shalin Liu Performance Center, 37 Main Street, Rockport, MA; Box Office 978-546-7391 or www.rockportmusic.org
Tony Award winner and Broadway star Faith Prince brought her cabaret-style act to Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport on Sunday for one performance only. Accompanied by her Music Director Alex Rybeck on piano, they put on a dazzling program filled with classic show tunes, back stage stories, and displays of Prince's "gracious with an edge" personality. The breathtaking view of the harbor through the wall of windows behind her lost some of its allure in her presence. Appropriately, she opened with a medley of "Broadway Baby" (Follies) and "Adelaide's Lament" from her star-making role in the 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls, complete with exaggerated New York accent and stuffed nose.
Dressed in black from the bow on top of her head to high-heeled ankle boots on her feet, Prince didn't fuss with costume changes or props, but stuck with the business of telling her story. Hailing from a small town in the South, she confessed, "I had big dreams for changing my zip code," and set out for New York to make it on Broadway. It took ten years of performing in road companies, Off-Off-Off Broadway plays, and industrial shows before she was cast in Jerome Robbins' Broadway in 1989 and was officially on her way. Three years later, she won the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her Miss Adelaide, and has also been nominated three other times for the Tony.
Illustrating her stories with songs, Prince sang "Hurry! It's Lovely Up Here" before sharing a very funny anecdote about playing opposite Jack Jones in a summer stock production of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Lamenting her disappointing love life was a great segue into "What Did I Have That I Don't Have?" a showcase for her ability to belt, but she eventually got the guy and has been married for more than twenty years to trumpeter Larry Lunetta ("If I Were a Bell"). They moved to California for a change of lifestyle ("I got to put my son to bed") and Prince subsequently found work on a number of television shows and films.
Prince is a master of the art of storytelling in word and song, sweetly conveying the character of Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors ("Somewhere That's Green" and "Suddenly Seymour" in a duet with Rybeck), turning at once regretful and brassy as Mame in "If He Walked Into My Life," and stopping the show with her emotional version of "And the World Goes 'Round" (New York, New York). She's one of that rare breed of performers who acts the song, be it dramatic or comic, and proved herself worthy of consideration for the role of Dolly Levi (should anybody decide to revive Hello, Dolly! in honor of the musical's 50th anniversary in 2014) as she trumpeted "Before the Parade Passes By" with brio, and wrung every syllable of comedy out of "The Boy From...(Tacarembo La Tumbe Del Fuego Santa Malipas Zacatecas La Junta Del Sol Y Cruz)" as part of her encore.
Impressive as she sounds when singing with power, Prince is capable of bringing it down to the intimacy and raw emotion of a song as she did with her closing selection "Bless Your Heart," with beautiful music and lyrics co-written by her piano man. Prince took a day off from her role as Miss Hannigan in the current Broadway revival of Annie in order to keep her date with the appreciative Rockport audience. She mentioned that her understudy Mary was thrilled to go on in her place, but I wish she had added that it was none other than Boston singer/actress/cabaret artist Mary Callanan stepping out of the ensemble to terrorize the orphans! Still, the woman has class and thanked the people from Shalin Liu by name for bringing her here to perform her cabaret. We thank them, too!
Photo credit: Faith Prince (courtesy Rockport Music, Shalin Liu Performance Center)