BWW Review: In Her STILL WITHIN THE SOUND OF MY VOICE-THE SONGS OF LINDA RONSTADT, Elizabeth Ward Land Explores Her Creative Life Set To The Music Of A Legend
Heigh-Ho Friends & "Family"! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in CABARET to bring you all the T.
There's this old, Old, OLD movie called Svengali my darlings, and in one scene Drew Barrymore's granddaddy hears the object of his obsession sing for the first time and says, "The roof of her mouth must be like a cathedral dome." This must also be the case with Elizabeth Ward Land whose STILL WITHIN THE SOUND OF MY VOICE-THE SONGS OF LINDA RONSTADT at The Green Room 42 rang out like the bells of the late, lamented Notre Dame on Friday night. Land, a veteran of many Broadway musicales, AMAZING GRACE, MEMPHIS, THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL to name just 3, has a vocal range and power that rivals, nay even surpasses the legendary subject of her cabaret. Ronstadt is a legend and no doubt. One of the first solo female ROCKSTARS to emerge from the late '60s and go on to creatively dominate several musical genres; rock, country, Broadway, standards, Latin (as in 3 Grammy-winning Spanish Language albums) and even Gilbert & Sullivan for Jiminy Crickets sakes! This diversity, along with musical life parallels between these two women, is what prompted Land to create a show inspired by the lady who checked so many boxes in her own musical tastes. In putting together her New York City cabaret debut, a show where she would tell stories from her life while aligning them with a musical subject, Land said that, as she thought about it all, she found that so much of the musical soundtrack of her life could be attributed to Ronstadt, saying, "There was Linda everywhere that I turned in the music that made me... me, she was there."
With a mother who taught piano and a father who played the guitar EWL was brought up in a home where everyone played and sang and practiced music on multiple instruments. An oboe major in college (before she got herself right with the lord and decided to become an actress) Elizabeth recalled in her show that her first major role in University was, in fact, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, a role for which Ronstadt was Tony-nominated in the 1982 Broadway Season. Kicking off the night with HEAT WAVE, Land immediately showed that, although she has tons of legit training behind her voice, she can rock it out like Linda... never screaming but using a huge, wailing voice that defies her smaller stature and delicate, patrician attractiveness. The sound that this woman has will always defy description in the printed word. There simply are not words sufficient enough to convey to a reader what Land's vocals can produce. Bobby's early analogy of gorgeous, swaying cathedral bells is the best we can do, pumpkins. There were 2 terrific medlies in the show combining WHEN WILL I BE LOVED, THAT'LL BE THE DAY, IT'S SO EASY, JUST ONE LOOK, and SHOOP SHOOP and then PAIN OF LOVING YOU, SOMEWHERE OUT THERE, ALL MY LIFE, and PIRATES (believe it or not) all expertly arranged for her by music director Andrew David Sotomayor and backed by her band, Kevin Kuhn on Guitar, Jordan Jancz on Cello and Bass, Are Sekiguchi on Drums and Joel Waggoner on Violin. Waggoner, also a singer, partnered with the FABULOUS Catherine Porter to provide back up vocals and each, in their turn, dueted and trio'ed with Elizabeth throughout the evening all directed by the subtle hand of Alan Muraoka. Particularly wonderful were Porter and Waggoner taking on Fredrick and Mabel from Pirates, accompanied by Elizabeth on her aforementioned Oboe, and my dears, she's still got it with the double reed, let me tell you that.
All of this marvelous musical collaboration happening on stage made for an incredibly enjoyable evening, but for this rainbow boy, just getting to sit and hear Elizabeth Ward Land sing things like BLUE BAYOU, HEART LIKE A WHEEL and her encore, DESPERADO, for which she accompanied herself on the piano, were the major standouts of the night. For lovers of great vocals, you simply should not miss Elizabeth Ward Land. She has one more performance at The Green Room 42 Tonight and since Bobby gives this glorious singer 4 ½ out of 5 Rainbows, you must click the link below for tickets.
* All Photos By Yours Truly, Bobby Patrick