Review: Farah Alvin B-SIDE Gets an A+ at The Green Room 42

Calling all producers: it is time for this Broadway veteran to move to the next level.

By: Jun. 12, 2021

Review: Farah Alvin B-SIDE Gets an A+ at The Green Room 42 It's not every day that I am compelled to write a second story about a show that the Broadway World Cabaret page has already covered, let alone a third, but last night at The Green Room 42 I found myself repeatedly thinking, "I have to write about this" and if there's anything I've learned in my life, it's to listen to myself the fourth or fifth time I think something. So, in spite of Farah Alvin: B-SIDE having been reviewed by Ricky Pope and Photo Flashed by Helane Blumfield, I find myself, at midnight, at the computer, trying to get the words down before the memory and the feelings dissipate into ether.

There are some artists who inspire an enormity of reaction from audience members. Something that they do, something that they possess is so special, so remarkable, so unfathomable that they, by sheer virtue of their individual gifts, rise to a place in peoples' estimations, becoming an Untouchable. They make people want what they have, and if they can't have it, they will at least worship it. Betty Buckley has it. Patti LuPone has it. Audra McDonald has it. They are special, and the world knows it. Why then, I ask myself, does the world not know it about Farah Alvin? A veteran of six Broadway shows and countless productions off-Broadway and in regional theater, Ms. Alvin has been a pit singer, standby, replacement, understudy, backup singer, dance captain, and one of Broadway's invaluable entities: Madame de L'ensemble. She has a following, she has friends, she has fans, but what she does not have is fame - something that is as mind-boggling as a Rubik's Cube: for, years ago, fame for Farah should have been a fait accompli.

In her new show, Farah follows up last season's smash Farah Alvin ON VINYL with more music from her childhood in the seventies. While On Vinyl was a huge splashy show with many musicians, B-Side is just Farah and her Musical Director, Wunderkind Michael Holland, on piano, guitar, and sometimes both simultaneously. For their sixty-plus minute show, this twosome connected at the treble clef played everything from easy-going, poetic pop tunes by Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon to driving, pulsating classic hard rock by Aerosmith and Bowie, and the big question on everyone's mind was "How does she DO that?!" because (with all due respect to three legendary divas) I never heard Misses Buckley, LuPone, or McDonald go from Merman to Luker to Joplin in one sixty-minute set. Alvin is one of the most extraordinary vocal technicians ever to be born, made, or a combination of the two, and when you layer on the emotional depths to which she plunges during numbers like "Solitaire" or the sexy sass she brings to "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" it's really difficult to stay in the moment, rather than ask your table mate (or yourself) why Farah Alvin isn't in ALL the Broadway shows. It's enough to either drive you mad or make you mad.

The truth is, there's never a way to predict an artist's trajectory before it happens or analyze it in its' process - it is what it is, and as long as the artist keeps on working, there is gratitude to go around. It would perhaps behoove Ms. Alvin to take last year's show, On Vinyl, and add it to B-Sides as a two-act concert show - there is no doubt that Farah could bring the same intimacy and connection to large houses that she brings to small venues, so outgoing, so gregarious, so witty and pithy is she, to say nothing of her pathos and profundity. It's a vision that fits perfectly with the kind of shows that producer Scott Coulter presents with his Spot-On Entertainment series, and it's ready-made - all that needs to happen is to put two perfect hours of virtuoso vocals together in one act, and Farah Alvin could (and should) be packing them in all over the world.

In the meantime, Ms. Alvin and her spectacularly nurturing and astute director Marc Tumminelli (who takes such good care of her, at every turn) should be securing more bookings for this show, because this isn't some wedding band doing Seventies covers - it's one of the most sensational voices and thrilling performers this writer has ever seen, diving into the decade and swimming in the music, swirling it around until it is something new and exciting to be discovered in songs that are already in your blood. And that sh*t doesn't come around every day, man.

Neither does a talent like Farah Alvin.

For the moment Farah Alvin B-Side has concluded its run at The Green Room 42. Hopefully, there will be future bookings of the show.

Visit the Farah Alvin website HERE.

Visit the Green Room 42 website HERE.

Photo by Helane Blumfield