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BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

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Where Beth Malone goes, so do the smiles of gleeful, sated people.

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

Like the sun bursting through the clouds, Beth Malone charged the stage of 54 Below last night, bringing with her all the joy and happiness that comes with a blissful, sunny day. Once there, that ball of jubilation stayed for about an hour, shining down upon a room full of people a most rapturous evening of entertainment.

Even when in the act of performing a less-than-happy composition, Ms. Malone's contentment, gratitude, even her relief at being given the gift of a live performance and audience once more was not to be disguised. This was to be a concert in celebration of life, of music, and of connection with other human beings, and Ms. Malone and her band brought it home with every fiber of their being, with great success.

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below In this, her Feinstein's/54 Below solo show debut, Beth Malone had more to celebrate than just surviving the pandemic and returning to the stage - Beth Malone was celebrating this month of Gay Pride, hence the heart-grabbing announcement welcoming "Broadway's second favorite lesbian" to the stage, and though nobody informed the crowd who the favorite is, one suspects that the race is neck-and-neck because this crowd was completely in love last night. The object of their affection was and will remain the Tony-Award nominated star of Fun Home, who was right at home as she chatted with the crowd about everything from her new female-centric musical retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac to whether or not people from Colorado really smoke that much weed. Disarmingly relaxed and open of beating heart, inquisitive mind, and benevolent society, Ms. Malone seemed to represent the anti-esoteric, appealing to everyone: strong, vulnerable, real, and easy to love in all her blue-jean, touseled hair, and (eventual) bare-footed glory. There would not appear to be any possibility of being in the room with her and not becoming besotted by her charms.

And then she sang.

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below Oh, yeah, she hadn't even sung a note before you could feel yourself being reeled in. With a setlist ranging from musical theater (natch) to Brandi Carlile (natch), Malone's music remained authentic to who she is ... or at least who we all think she is, or might be, in real life. When straying away from the musical theater compositions, Beth kept it down-to-earth and relatable, feet on the ground, eyes to the sky, giving off every impression that Beth Malone is an optimist. She appears to lead with hope; no matter what story she is telling - there is always a glint of it in her eye, and in her voice. Even as she and fellow singer Sonya Meyer dueted on Craig Carnelia's "Flight" in exquisite harmonies reminiscent of Delibes' Flower Duet, hearts around the room could be heard breaking, as others could be felt soaring - she is a mass of contradiction that you can't always figure out, so just buckle up and go where she wants to take you. You almost want to burst into tears when she starts her "Fun Home" medley, but you can't quite because you're so damn happy she is singing a "Fun Home" medley... no, wait... yes. You do end up crying. You kind of have to.

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below On the subject of Fun Home and Broadway, Ms. Malone made the perfect decision to make (most of) her musical theater offerings ones with a decidedly LGBTQIA+ slant to them... perhaps because of her position in the community, perhaps because of her personal tastes, perhaps because of Pride. Whatever the case may be, singing from Tootsie, The Wild Party, and The Prom, Malone did right by gay Broadway storylines - and when she and Musical Director David Dyer mashed up "Unruly" with "You Will Be Found" from Dear Evan Hansen, they made a beautiful musical marriage, because even though the central characters of DEH are not gay, they battle teenage bullying, isolation, angst, and judgment, and what gay kid doesn't know about that? Yes to The Prom meeting Dear Evan Hansen in this tender and hopeful way: bravi. Even when performing "Just in Time" from the musical Bells Are Ringing, Ms. Malone outdid herself with a stunning performance of the famed Judy Garland arrangement - Happy Pride. The one musical theater number not rooted in gay culture was The Unsinkable Molly Brown anthem "I Ain't Down Yet" but when you consider that Molly Brown was played by Tammy Grimes, Debbie Reynolds, and Beth Malone, ya kinda hafta put the number into the gay column, too; so it's a hundred percent gay for Malone and musical theater!

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below From start to finish, Ms. Malone gave her audience what they asked of her, which is telling of her generosity, as was her decision to give up two of her musical numbers to Ms. Meyer and guitarist Damian Smith, both of whom got to show off their skills from the center spot. Like Beth herself, the other artists on the stage had some powerful pipes to show off, in harmonies immaculately balanced by sound engineer Becky Morris, while lighting diva Amanda Raymond kept the stage aglow in shades of lavender, clearly in honor of all the beautiful queer people celebrating this month. How nice of Beth Malone to bring herself, her friends, and her music to the party. But, if this greedy writer might make a suggestion: it doesn't have to be Pride for Malone and co. to come back to the nightclub stages of NYC. Heck, it could just be a Tuesday - Beth Malone would be more than welcome to brighten up our days with this, or any other, act. Whether the favorite, second favorite, or any other number, whether lesbian, actress, storyteller, or human being, Beth Malone is incredible, and incredibly welcome anywhere.

Beth Malone's performance at Feinstein's/54 Below was a one-off but keep an eye on the 54 Below website HERE to find out when she will be back.

Visit the Beth Malone website HERE.

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: BETH MALONE Shines As Bright As The Day at Feinstein's/54 Below

Photos by Stephen Mosher


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