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BWW Review: DEREK KLENA Sings Straight From the Heart at Feinstein's 54 Below

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Derek Klena can currently be seen on Broadway as one of the stars of Jagged Little Pill.

BWW Review: DEREK KLENA Sings Straight From the Heart at Feinstein's 54 Below

Tommy Ross, Eddie Birdlace, Fieyro, Dmitry, Nick Healy. Onstage, Tony nominee Derek Klena has played a lot of roles that could be best described as "heels," well-meaning guys who go horribly wrong due to a lapse in good judgment. It comes as a pleasant surprise to find out that Derek Klena, actor, singer, cabaret performer, is in truth a genuinely affable, kind, thoughtful guy. He is also a prodigiously talented one. In the decade he has been working in New York he has racked up some impressive credits including Carrie, Dogfight, Wicked, The Bridges of Madison County, Anastasia, and Jagged Little Pill. He sang songs from several of those productions in his self-titled show which opened at 54 Below last night.

He also used this show to catch his fans up on what he's been up to during the pandemic. Which like a lot of us, is impatiently waiting. Jagged Little Pill played only three months when Covid shut the world down. But three months was long enough to get the show nominated for a slew of Tony Awards, including one for Klena. In the meantime he has taken his act online, singing at any opportunity. And as he said, he took the time to slow down the pace and catch up with family and friends. Slowing down the pace is not something that comes naturally to Derek Klena, and so he dove into this solo show with a lot of gusto. In addition to some of his Broadway hits, his show gave us some pop and alt-rock standards.

He opened with The Zombies hit "This Will Be Our Year" as an ironic welcome back after a year and a half off. He followed with Billy Joel's "Vienna." His voice was particularly effortless and soaring on this rock classic. He gave us the song that won the heart of his now-wife with Train's "Drops of Venus." He shared a story about connecting with his little brother during the pandemic. The two used the time to go on short road trips and share music in the car. He punctuated the story with Billie Eilish's gorgeous tune "Everything I Wanted."

BWW Review: DEREK KLENA Sings Straight From the Heart at Feinstein's 54 Below

He took a moment to talk about his favorite songs, those he sang while watching videos with his friends' three young children. He demonstrated this with something he called "The Uncle Derek Medley," a half dozen or so Disney power tunes. He then shared some of his own favorite tunes, Foo Fighters' "Time Like These," Labrinth's "Jealous," and a truly tongue-in-cheek Justin Bieber medley, complete with patented boy band moves for all the Beliebers in the house.

He next turned to Broadway for inspiration. Singing some songs he originated and some that he just loves, including "My Petersburg" from Anastasia, " Up" from Sing City, "Beautiful City" from Godspell, and " You Learn" from Jagged Little Pill. The last song was a particularly good showcase for his rangy voice, utilizing some stratospheric falsettos passages. He also blew the roof off with Brandi Carlile's "The Joke." Klena is a very fine vocal technician and this final number really used all of his bells and whistles.

Supporting Derek Klena on piano was Benjamin Rauhala, who also music directed the evening and did all of the superb arrangements. David Cinquegrana had some really wonderful moments on the guitar. Derek Klena has some amazing fans who greeted every number with wild applause. And rightly so. Mr. Klena put together a first-rate show.

BWW Review: DEREK KLENA Sings Straight From the Heart at Feinstein's 54 Below

For more information on Derek Klena, follow him Derek Klena">@Derek Klena on Twitter or @derek_klena on Instagram. To find other great acts at Feinstein's 54 Below, go to 54below.com.


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