BWW Review: HADESTOWN Star Eva Noblezada Disarms at Green Room 42
Eva Noblezada's cabaret act is undeniably charming. At the start of the show, an announcer brought her up as a two-time Tony Award loser. Noblezada appeared onstage laughing, and explained that she'd asked for that introduction, to set the tone of the night, that even successful performers "don't have it figured out".
Eight times a week, Noblezada plays Eurydice in Broadway's new hit, Hadestown (or as she put it, she "goes to hell"). However, in the Green Room 42 on Monday night, she was disarmingly herself. She and Rodney Bush, her pianist, have strong chemistry together, and seemed more like amiable friends than coworkers. She introduced her Lola and Poppa (Filipino for grandma and grandpa) to the room, and spoke frankly about her struggles with anxiety and depression, including how nervous she was to be on stage that night. (A previous show meant she didn't have her normal rehearsal time, so she and the pianist were performing some of the songs together for the very first time).
Her self-deprecation in between songs only seemed to make her vocal performances more impressive. Her song selections showed breadth and depth, from classics like Marilyn Monroe's "I Wanna Be Loved By You" to an instrumental version of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" and several Amy Winehouse songs. Her voice is powerful, equally capable of raw emotion and crystalline clarity. At only 23 years old, she displayed incredible maturity and vocal range. She interspersed knockout performances with musings from her life, including the crappy way she was treated at age 17 when working on Miss Saigon in London, when she was alone in a foreign country and producers put her on high doses of Accutane and Prednisone, two drugs that can cause depression.
Despite the heavy topics discussed, Noblezada made an effort to keep the show light and fun, playing drinking games with the audience. She tested their knowledge of Hadestown trivia and random details from her and her pianist's lives. ("Rodney is from Yonkers - true or false?")
Her stage presence was adorably awkward. At one point, the pianist started playing the wrong song, and she visibly cringed in embarrassment. (She quickly corrected him and regained her composure, but it was interesting to see the choice she'd made to call attention to and let us see how uncomfortable she was onstage.) She has a young and fun vibe about her. A true millennial, she stopped the performance to take a video selfie with the crowd at 11/11 11:11 p.m. She noted that she'd chosen a theme of romance for the night because of the "full moon energy" and because she liked elevens.
Unfortunately, the theater encouraged people to record cell phone video, which fits their vibe as an "urban theater" but I personally find annoying and distracting. People were probably going to whip out their phones anyway, but there's something irritating about the theater specifically permitting that particular faux pas.
However, Noblezada's rising star is a pleasure and a treat to watch. She's captivating enough that the minor distractions didn't detract from my enjoyment of the evening. She performs regularly at Green Room 42; follow the theater for updates on availability.