BWW Reviews: Singer Nita Whitaker Scores Big with Love 'n Stuff at Sterling's
On Sunday January 26 divine singer Nita Whitaker brought her brand new show Love 'n Stuff to Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal. Looking positively stunning in a black and white pageant dress accentuated with sequins - she was Miss Louisiana in the Miss America Pageant some years ago - and displaying much more of her oh so glorious range than she has in the past, Whitaker gave an 80 minute knock out performance expertly accompanied on the piano by musical director Nelson Kole and on percussion by Walter Rodriguez. There were also a couple of exciting surprises in store for the packed house. In the audience were celebrity friends actress Jennifer Lewis and the one and only triple threat Ben Vereen, who came onstage and did a couple of unrehearsed but delicious duets with Whitaker.
Those duets were "For Good" from Wicked and "Stand By Me". Whitaker credits Vereen for being an inspiration and mentor in her early career as a singer, and it was thrilling to watch the two make such vibrant music together, which needed no rehearsal as it came straight from the heart. What a treat!
Other highlights of Miss Whitaker's stellar evening included: a fantastic medley of Broadway songs which she called her White Girl Medley. "How often do black women get cast in these roles?" she quipped. " For Guys and Dolls, they'd have to rename it Pimps and Hos." The medley included: "I Cain't Say No" from Oklahoma!, "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady, "Adelaide's Lament" from Guys and Dolls, "Memory" from Cats, "The Music of the Night" from The Phantom of the Opera and "Don't Rain on My Parade" from Funny Girl. This section was preceded by a gorgeous rendition of "Unexpected Song" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance and really showed off Whitaker's legitimately trained voice, which came as a delightful surprise to me. She really could play any of these roles!
The other medley was in tribute to Whitney Houston. Whitaker explained that even though their paths never crossed, she had always included many of Houston's hits in her repertoire and was widely lauded for doing so. Plus Whitney's voice was a voice for the ages...one that she, as well as the rest of us, sorely miss. Songs in the medley included: "I Believe in You and Me", "I Will Always Love You", "Run to You", "I Have Nothing" and "I Didn't Know My Own Strength". All beautifully rendered by Whitaker!
The LOVE side of the show included: Sondheim's "Being Alive", "I've Got Love On My Mind", "Come Rain or Come Shine", "Where or When", "L.O.V.E", and "Love Looks Good On You". It certainly looks good on Whitaker, as she enveloped her audience with warmth, soul and yes, indeed, lots of love throughout.
Don't miss the beautiful Nita Whitaker as she performs Love 'n Stuff on tour. Hopefully, there's a CD release of it in the works. Brava!
(photo credit: Stan Mazin)