BWW Reviews: Versatile Singer/Actress Susan Egan Performs Delightful Concert with Arcadia High School Students
On Saturday March 1 Arcadia Performing Arts Foundation presented Broadway star Susan Egan, who originated the role of 'Belle' in Disney's Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, as part of its first season at the Arcadia Performing Arts Center. Joining Egan on stage were the sixty-member Arcadia Stage, the theatre student program at Arcadia High School. They sang four songs with Egan, and then two from their upcoming production of Curtains, which will open March 20.
Susan Egan displayed an enormous amount of versatility and charm in her concert Saturday at Arcadia High School, reminiscing about and singing tunes from her Broadway shows such as Beauty and the Beast, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Cabaret. This legit soprano has a beautiful voice, but more to the point has the uber charisma and sense of humor to entertain, not just a gay, theatrical audience but in this case, a very straight one composed of Arcadia High School students and their parents, close friends and other relatives. Only a gifted, seasoned pro can pull in this kind of a crowd, and Egan proved just how terrifically magnetic she can be. The crowd adored her, cheering and giving her two standing ovations. Musical director for Egan's segments was the exceedingly accomplished Stephen Cook.
This was sort of like a master class, as Egan rehearsed and sang with a 60 member chorus from Arcadia High School. Theses kids are akin to those from the High School of Performing Arts in New York. They are richly talented and skilled, so contact with a vet like Egan only served to make every performance the best. Alana Deblase, Arcadia's answer to Idina Menzel, to quote Miss Egan herself, dueted with her on "For Good" from Wicked. It was stunning for both singers! And 8 female students backed Egan on the display of her Disney animated film role with "I Won't Say I'm In Love" from Hercules. The Act I closing number was "You Can't Stop the Beat" from Hairspray, which Egan renamed "...Can't Stop to Breathe"! Dynamite stuff! In Act II Egan introduced Rent by noting its special value in giving high school students a more intimate appreciation of musical theatre, after which the chorus delivered a splendid "Seasons of Love". They also essayed "Show People" and "Wide Open Spaces" from their upcoming production of Curtains, which were fantastically staged by Arcadia's program director Steven Volpe.
Highlights of Miss Egan on her own included: an opening Broadway medley of "Something's Coming" from West Side Story, "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from Gypsy and "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady, followed by an absolutely charming Georgia Stitt song "My Lifelong Love", in which Egan related her elementary school crush on a boy who played the clarinet. She then segued into a lovely "Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog and "NYC" from Annie, interspersed with some fun anecdotes about her Broadway experiences. Other treats of the 2-hour set were "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret, "Everybody Says Don't" from Anyone Can Whistle, "Secret of Happiness" from Daddy Long Legs, "If I Only Had a Brain" from The Wizard of Oz, combined with Stephen Schwartz's "Lion Tamer" from The Magic Show. There was also a wonderful Disney Heroine medley including "Part of That World", "A Whole New World" and "Colors of the Wind". Two piece de resistence turns were "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Mis, and Egan's own composition "Nina Doesn't Care", which she wrote after the birth of her daughter Nina, showing the importance of a mother's life. She also did an encore of a very humorous song from YouTube to the tune of the "William Tell Overture" which also relates the struggles of motherhood.
Go see Susan Egan whenever she appears. She has a lovely voice, winning personality and glowing humanity which enraptures one and all.