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BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below

How do you raise the roof in a basement? Jenn Colella knows how and she does it with ease.

BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below

There is this word that people use, that people have been using quite a lot lately, that I did not grow up with and, so, didn't really get. I never heard it before and, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, it seemed like everyone was using it, particularly one of my closest friends, and I found myself wondering if something happened to make that the word of the moment. Still, I didn't use it because I didn't get it. It wasn't a real word to me; it felt like a made-up word, like the ones in the play Wicked. The word is gobsmacked. Even now, writing it, I feel a bit foolish - except that, now, I know what it is to be gobsmacked. I had on-the-job training on Saturday night at 54 Below.

BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below I was one of the people who saw the play Urban Cowboy on Broadway. I also saw Come From Away and Chaplin (I am, in fact, rather proud to confess I have an obsession with the song "All Falls Down" that savors of teenage idolatry). I have known who Jenn Colella was as an actress and acknowledged that she has a special gift that informs her popularity, popularity which I feel she deserves. I had, though, never seen her nightclub act, so when her Feinstein's solo show debut appeared on the 54 Below calendar I didn't even check to see if I was free - I reserved my press seats because I was willing to cancel any previous engagement I might have had, in order to see the Jenn Colella show. It was at that show that I learned the meaning of 'gobsmacked' ... my husband must have been gobsmacked, too, because he could be heard, throughout, exclaiming, "Are you KIDDING me?!" (sometimes he even added an expletive to double down on his astonishment).

BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below I see a lot of cabaret during the year, have seen a lot in my life, have seen a REALLY lot since starting this job, and I could safely put my hand over my heart and swear that I have never seen anything that surprised me as much as Jenn Colella's one-woman show. I have seen many artists that I would put on a list of "The Best" I have seen. I have reviewed many shows that I have praised. It isn't just that Jenn Colella's show deserves praise, it isn't just that Jenn Colella belongs on a list of the best, it's that she belongs on a list all her own. I don't believe I have ever seen an artist work a room the way that this singing actress does, and that's what had me gobsmacked. Of course Ms. Colella can sing, we've all heard her do it, and beautifully. Naturally, Jenn can act, many who frequent the Broadway stage have seen her do it. So, while these qualities are completely vital to the mission statement of a performer working on the stage of a cabaret or concert venue, there has to be something special that pushes Colella over the top for this cabaret aficionado, and since authenticity is the key to the success of every nightclub act that, most, moves me, it must begin there. But it doesn't end there.

BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below For her seventy-five minute program, Ms. Colella performed everything from Bonnie Raitt to Amanda Green, from songs in shows she would like to do to numbers born out of the characters she has played, and she did so with a ferocity that riled her standing room only audience in a manner reminiscent of a Harry Styles concert (find footage online, it defies description). Never shying away from the crowd, Colella used the entire room as her playground, running through the tables to sing some Sondheim and dancing provocatively with women and men during her aforementioned Bonnie Raitt number, "Something to Talk About." Her off-the-cuff commentary was so incredibly relaxed and natural (and sometimes intimately personal) that one would think that Jenn Colella was performing to a room full of friends at her very own birthday party, as opposed to a room full of paying guests in a supper club. There was, to the evening, a total absence of boundary between Colella and the people; there was love and affection, respect and honesty flowing freely between Jenn and the crowd, and complete unmitigated ardor between she and her colleagues. The sight of Colella's onstage relationship with the band was something slightly resembling a dodo video of a houseful of puppies at play ... and speaking of puppies, the personal highlight for this dog-obsessed hooman was watching Ms. Colella's eyes tear up while singing about the importance of dogs in our lives before she went off on a delicious tangent about her own dog, Stella Colella, who does not like to hear her Mama sing around the house. It was even more satisfying than hearing "All Falls Down" performed live in a small room where the rafters shook from the power notes and, yes, I was one of the first people to their feet for the mid-show Standing O after the number from Chaplin. It's not just that Jenn Colella puts on a great show, that she is talented, that she is a hard worker, it's the commitment to bringing all the parts of herself to her storytelling, the willingness to lay bare her soul and humanity to the point that she opens up to a room full of strangers about a love affair only eight months old that has made her so happy as to sing a love song directly to her inamorata with some 150 people looking on. It is, apparently, not part of Jenn Colella's genetic makeup to hide herself from the people, and that is where her success as a concert performer resoundingly resonates.

BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below In her opening monologue, Ms. Colella thanked the crowd for "coming to hear a lesbian sing some obscure show tunes," she shared the details of an upcoming concert for PBS in which she requested pronoun changes for "I Could Have Danced All Night" so that the story would be authentic to her (PBS agreed, by the way, and the resulting performance is impressive), and she cheekily declared that Will Chase is the reason she is "only mostly gay." There was a time, not too long ago, when rhetoric of this nature would be jettisoned from the cabaret show of a famous Broadway actress, but not today, and it isn't difficult to wonder if, had times and outlooks not changed, Jenn Colella would have remained societally discrete or if she would have insisted on being herself in the face of certain judgment. One suspects Colella would have been true to herself, but if she had made the adjustment, what would her nightclub act have been like? It would have been musically sound, to be sure, for the lady can (jaw-droppingly) go from belting Broadway ("Don't Rain on My Parade") to growling rock and roll ("Me and Bobby McGee"), with absolute commitment to every acting moment, and undeniably unimpeachable vocal prowess (not to mention some visible stand-up comedy skills, especially during her "most embarrassing audition" monologue). Indeed, during every monologue, be it spoken or sung, Ms. Colella has a special gift at balancing her time spent focused on the horizon line and that used in making powerful and heartfelt connections with the people in the seats - something not every cabaret performer manages well, but that seems like breathing or walking or blinking for Jenn Colella. It was a balance that did serve, well, the fact that there was a live audience and a live stream audience, because her use of the back wall for her storytelling put her face up to the live stream camera, while the lowering of her gaze to the live audience made palpable the human connection. If this was Jenn Colella's first live stream experience, she handled it like a boss.

But that's what Jenn Colella is - a boss - and anybody who has only ever seen her play a part should get her concert appearances on their radar so that they, too, can go and learn, first hand, what it is to be Gobsmacked By Colella.

The YOU ARE HERE band was Julia Adamy, Damien Bassman, Nate Lueck, Caitlin Warbelow and Musical Director Chris Ranney

Find great shows to see at the Feinstein's/54 Below website HERE.

Visit the Jenn Colella Twitter page HERE.

Jenn Colella gets a five out of five microphones rating for performing her entire show without the use of a lyric sheet, tablet, or music stand.

BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below

"Kindness is accessible to us at all times." -- Jenn Colella

BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below
Jenn Collela with "sexy surprise" special guest Jarrod Spector

BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Jenn Colella Leaves Audience Sated and Elated With YOU ARE HERE at Feinstein's/54 Below Photos by Stephen Mosher


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From This Author - Stephen Mosher