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BWW Review: GEORGIA STITT AND FRIENDS impress at Birdland Jazz Club

BWW Review: GEORGIA STITT AND FRIENDS impress at Birdland Jazz Club

Birdland Jazz Club, NYC, November 18th, 2019

Georgia Stitt, a talented songwriter and composer, joined Broadway at Birdland this past Monday night to showcase some of her favorite work. Some of her musicals are still in the works, but a strong selection of her older work came from collaborations done throughout her storied Broadway journey. While she self-deprecatingly shrugged off the number of talented people she's worked with over the years, it's clear that her passion for music and stagecraft has helped her establish and maintain strong relationships with some of the most well-known names in Broadway today. Case in point, she was joined by infamous Elphaba, ex-Wall Streeter, Jessica Vosk, and two-time Tony nominee, Kate Baldwin, (among others) who absolutely showed off their gorgeous voices with Stitt's excellent lyrics.

One of the coolest parts of this show was the relationship between Stitt and Baldwin. Often, Baldwin's requests of Stitt turned into beautiful music, such as "Something That You Do," a song about the relationship with a mother helping a daughter define her identity for herself - a message that reverberates strongly for anyone who has had to justify their passions as hobbies rather than life pursuits. Art can be fickle, but the core meaning is summed up in the line, "Art is something that you do, something that you makes" and later, "You belong to it and it belongs to you." Whether Stitt's musicals find a semi-permanent home on Broadway or not, the message of the song has a personal meaning as she had performers like Matt Bogart join to perform, "Ryan and the Water," a song from a musical that never quite materialized. The song was good and lines like, "18 years ago a boy stood here...on this very spot where the river bends," spoke of loss and the tragedy of a flood, but the larger concept of the musical didn't have the oomph needed to grow it further.

That being said, Stitt has clearly not let forgotten musicals keep her from exploring new work, and her various guests showcased a plethora of more current projects on her mind. Vosk sang a handful of songs that really spoke well to the times we live in like "Casual" and "Stop." The lines of "Casual" referencing how keeping a relationship casual doesn't seem to work for the song's heroine, "It doesn't feel casual to discover you care." Later, in "Stop," Vosk implored the audience with a line that we've probably all told ourselves, "I'm spending way too many hours, pushing buttons on my phone." Sometimes that's how it goes and one needs a push to make a change. These well-intentioned, well-designed numbers featured Vosk beautifully, and Stitt used her platform to give people opportunities to shine.

Besides having an all-female band and shouting out to an organization she works with that helps female musicians find and be found for opportunities in New York, Stitt also invited Brandon Victor Dixon, Andrea Jones-Sojola, and her daughter, Molly Brown, to the stage to perform for a song each. While I personally enjoyed Baldwin's performances the best and would be remiss to not focus a significant amount of attention on Vosk, this trio helped keep the momentum of the performance going. Dixon shared a song from one of Stitt's latest projects about finding space in between disagreement to coexist called "The Great American Black and White." There may be some potential in the musical, and ultimately the message is important, which is characteristic of Stitt's work. However, "My Lifelong Love," sung by Brown, and "Re-Creation" sung by Jones-Sojola, were more intimately focused rather than tilted toward societal impact. In the first, a young girl sings about a grade school crush while in the second a woman sang about "rewriting reputations."

Ultimately, Stitt left a positive impression on her audience, and a joyful one, even when the tone of a song was somber. And with friends like hers, a Georgia Stitt show is bound to be good.

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From This Author Chris Struck