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Review: JUDY KUHN Shimmers in LOVE TO ME at The Green Room 42

Judy Kuhn brings love, song, and celebration to the 5th anniversary of The Green Room 42

Review: JUDY KUHN Shimmers in LOVE TO ME at The Green Room 42

Judy Kuhn knows a thing or two about love.

Indeed, it could be said that the petite actress, whose legendary Broadway performances, which include Tony nominated turns in musicals as varied as Les Miserables, Chess, She Loves Me, and Fun Home has built a career exploring the eccentricities of love in all its divergent complexities.

Weaving decades of that cumulative human observation into a winning new performance, Love to Me at The Green Room 42 - and on Valentine's Day no less - it thus seems proper that Kuhn here lets love rain, and ultimately reign supreme, as one of her generation's most beloved signing actors.

Of course, some of the greatest composers of all time also know a thing or two about love, and Kuhn is aided in her latest musical effort by an exacting selection of material from songwriters as diverse as Richard Rodgers, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman and Stephen Sondheim that perfectly couple with her distinct talent.

Launching with a playful pairing of "This Can't Be Love" and "Love is in the Air," suggesting that love itself may be a virus more contagious than any pandemic, Kuhn next floats from wit to winsome with Mitchell's "Help Me" and the Peggy Lee standard, "I Love the Way You're Breaking My Heart."

Revisiting Rags, a show whose short Broadway run marked, simultaneously, the heartbreak of show business, and the launch of a wonderfully successful 30 year marriage, Kuhn graduates to the material of co-star, Teresa Stratas with a sultry and insightful "Blame it on the Summer Night."

"Do You Love Me," duetted with the wonderful Brandon Uranowitz, grounds the evening in earthy honesty, while a triptych of songs by the Rodgers family (Richard, Mary, and grandson, Adam Guettel) offers Kuhn the spectrum of love from disparaging ("Nobody's Heart Belongs to Me") to desirous ("Hey Love") and, eventually, full throttled openness ("Love to Me" from The Light in the Piazza).

Blessed with a ravishing vocal instrument that can effortlessly spin from thrilling belt to a bell-like soprano, at the heart of all of Kuhn's performances is the juxtaposition of that piercing vocal power with a thrush-like vulnerability. Like musical theater legends before her, Mary Martin and Gertrude Lawrence, Kuhn's movements are lithe and her brown eyes shimmering, alternating between coquettish secretness and wide eyed earnestness. When she approaches the tender "Hello Young Lovers" or "Vanilla Ice Cream," the journey towards personal discovery is, in turns, romantic and comedically resilient, but both equally cathartic. Both a complete portrait of love finally and definitively expressed.

In a time when we've lost contemporary luminaries, Marin Mazzie and Rebecca Luker, it's doubly reassuring to find Kuhn centerstage and in such fine form. Premiering Sondheim's "Marry Me a Little," for the first time in her musical career, the song, in its climatic build from plaintive introversion to forthright sincerity, feels tailor made to Kuhn's unique artistry. Burnishing the song's climax with tremulous realization, it also makes a case that Judy Kuhn, as an artist, is only just at the precipice of the peak of her interpretive and vocal gifts.

And truly, what's not to love about that?

Judy Kuhn in 'Love to Me' at The Green Room 42. Judy Kuhn's fantastic musicians are: Peter Sachon on cello, John Hadfield on drums and percussion, and musical director, Dan Lipton featured on piano.

Follow Judy Kuhn online and via social media.

Twitter: @judykuhn

Instagram: @judykuhnofficial

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