BWW Reviews: ARIANA GRANDE at Madison Square Garden
It was very interesting to experience Ariana Grande at Madison Square Garden with my 8 year old daughter - who has been a huge fan since her days in "Victorious" and "Sam & Cat" on Nickelodeon. Grande clearly capitalized on this audience for her "Honeymoon Tour" gimmick. For $40, one could buy a set of "cat" ears that lit up in blue and pink - in sync with the other audience members. The experience brought all the fan girls together and lit up the Garden comparable to holding up lighters.
The 21 year old singer is not new to the scene. She has come to this honestly - back in the day, she did cut her teeth as a Broadway ensemble member in "13 the Musical" written by Tony Composer Jason Robert Brown and musically directed by Tony/Pulitzer Composer Tom Kitt. She clearly surrounded herself with top notch training. While on Nickelodeon she released two albums which did very well including the hit single "Problem."
She put on quite an extravaganza of singing, dancing and special effects to entice the 8-18 year old demographic. Considering that there was so much screaming from the audience members, it was still possible to hear Grande's strong vocals come through - especially when she took over all the vocal parts in "Bang Bang."
Grande has been compared to Mariah Carey in terms of her vocal quality, but I do not think Carey had the triple-threat talent that Grande truly possesses. Grande was able to sing effortlessly through some intricate choreography - during numbers like "Be My Baby" and "Break Free" and could even keep her bearings when she rode on a cloud over the audience. She also knew to theatrically present her songs with many different levels, like singing "Tattooed Heart" with a giant Boa.
It was a tad frustrating that her set started at 9:00pm and the opening acts were forgettable, but once she came out, she gave a full-on show. The costume changes were gratuitous and some of the filler from the DJ was featured way too much - although his tap dancing was quite impressive.
At one point, Grande clearly was overwhelmed by the magnitude of playing the Garden and broke down during "My Everything." Perhaps the excitement of being in NYC, headlining a show will propel her back the Broadway stage. Her young fans will grow older one day and she would do right to grow with them. Like Lady Gaga, Grande has a solid vocal technique and could certainly add a Broadway or Jazz credit to her repertoire - perhaps on the Fox Network's "Grease" as Sandy or Rizzo. One can only hope.