BWW Reviews: Darcie Roberts Brings Broadway Class to TexARTS
There were several empty seats at TexARTS last night as Broadway veteran Darcie Roberts took the stage for her first cabaret performance ever. I'm guessing the empty seats were partly because theater lovers in Austin proper may not know of the Lakeway based TexARTS and because Austinites may not be familiar with Ms. Roberts.
Austin theatergoers need to familiarize themselves with both.
Why should you know Darcie? She starred in the original production of Crazy for You at the age of 19, was a standby for the role of Amneris in the Broadway production of Aida, was in the Broadway company of Curtains, and starred as Millie in the national tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie. She also appeared in her fair share of legendary misses and flops, which she proudly discusses, including the "pre-Broadway" tours of Barry Manalow's Copacabana and Busker Alley directed by and starring Tommy Tune.
Due to her versatility, it's a bit challenging to describe Ms. Roberts. The tall, beautiful brunette sings with a sweet, nonchalant ease which is certainly pleasant to the ear, but on occasion she adds in an earth-shaking belt and a touch of pop flourishes. She's got the vulnerability and fragility of Bernadette Peters and the brassy belt of Megan Hilty. She also exudes the class and elegance you'd expect of a Broadway veteran and interacts with the audience to create a delightful and personal evening.
Her set list truly shows off her vocal assets. With a couple of exceptions like "My Strongest Suit" from Aida and "Gimme Gimme" from Thoroughly Modern Millie, her set is mostly comprised of standards from the Golden Age of Broadway. When most performers are gravitating towards newer composers like Andrew Lippa and Jason Robert Brown, it's nice to see someone do an hour long set featuring the work of Gershwin and Kander and Ebb. Sure, Ms. Roberts would excel just as easily with newer material, but as she sings standards like "Embraceable You," "Maybe This Time," and "42nd Street," you certainly appreciate her consistency in song choice.
The Kam and James Morris Theatre at TexARTS is a perfect venue for this Broadway veteran. Seeing Darcie play an intimate room of 120 seats is a thing of magic, and the TexARTS staff is just as warm and friendly as she is.
It's a bit disappointing that for Austin theatergoers, the common venue for cabarets or concerts featuring Broadway pros are the larger, cavernous spaces like Bass Concert Hall or The Long Center where the intimacy is low and the ticket prices are high. Seeing an exceedingly talented Broadway star like Darcie Roberts in a cozy space like TexARTS is indeed a treat.
Running time: Approximately one hour with no intermission.