BWW Review: ORFEH AND ANDY KARL: LEGALLY BOUND Rocks And Rolls Full House at 54 Below
It was pure pandemonium. The audience was on their feet and screaming. The demographic of people ranged from the very young to the very old, there were tourists, native New Yorkers, famous songwriters and actors, and all were on their feet and screaming. And it wasn't even the end of the show - it was just Orfeh singing "Piece of My Heart." The truth is that the wildly eclectic crowd at last nights LEGALLY BOUND spent much of their time at 54 Below screaming and cheering -- it was just that kind of night, and one suspects that anywhere Orfeh and Andy Karl go, people are screaming and cheering. Orfeh and Andy Karl are just a screaming and cheering kind of couple.
Legally Bound is not a new show. This is a return engagement and the show is an insanely popular one, which is why the house on this run's opening night was sold out. It turns out the tumultuous twosome have a huge fan base with whom they connect on their social media because the married couple (19 years!) spoke out to them from the stage, recognizing some on sight, and remarking on the requests they got via DM's regarding what they should and should not sing in this concert. The Diva and Divo of Broadway are super sweet and accommodating to their fans, they give them what they want and what they ask for, specifically, and that's why their show is so damn good... well, it's one of the reasons, at least. Beautifully directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, Legally Bound is one of the most satisfying nights to be found for a lover of live music, cabaret, concerts, Broadway or romance. Even if a person didn't know who Andy and Orfeh were, even if someone hasn't been around the Broadway scene long enough to know their history, even if an individual had never heard of The Karls before, the love story told in 80 minutes of pure entertainment is one of the prettiest, sexiest, funniest, funnest, and most musical love stories you can see on a stage, without getting arrested. Nineteen years later we should all be so in love and so into our spouse as these two. Just the way they look at each other is enough to make a person hold their breath, but more telling is the intent way that they watch each other perform, with such pride and with great sentiment, worn on their sleeve, their face and every other part of their being. This is what loving spousal support looks like and Mr. and Mrs. Karl are here to put it in the spotlight for the enjoyment and enlightenment of their fans, friends, and family.
More rock concert than cabaret show, Legally Bound shows off the powerhouse Orfeh's shocking skills as a vocalist, and Mr. Karl's profound abilities as a singing actor. Orfeh's numbers being mostly huge diva pop and rock songs, she proudly parades the indisputable truth that divas are born, not made, for no mere mortal could be taught that which she possesses when she struts out into the spotlight and kicks up the firepower to a full 20 - she is a force of nature, physically, vocally, and spiritually, in every way. Dare yourself to watch without once screaming or dropping your jaw - it isn't possible. Mr. Karl sings some appropriately chosen and superbly executed pop and rock music, but he also treats his Broadway fans to a little ROCKY and some GROUNDHOG DAY, and though Orfeh makes a joke about crying during "Seeing You" the joke is not far off, because Karl's ability to reconnect to the song from the show that got him an Olivier Award is so honest and in the moment that you can't help but think you've gone back in time to see the play again -- would that that were possible because these few years later, the Groundhog Day magic is still there. Whether singing their solos or doing a duet, these two may not be out to prove it, but prove it they do: they are the coolest, grooviest, sexiest couple in the Broadway cul-de-sac, and everyone should want to ask them over for drinks and a game of Twister because the Karls are the sh*t.
Musically, the evening is flat-out mind-blowing. With a band of five (lead by the insanely gifted Steven Jamail at the piano acting as MD and arranger) and three unbelievably talented back-up singers, Orfeh and Andy are giving the small 54 Below crowds the Hollywood Bowl treatment, turning the intimate venue into a rock and roll arena. With their silly and flirtatious antics, her divatude, his moves like Jagger, and their palpable devotion to each other AND each other's art, the Tony Award nominees roll into town with a divinely raucous, overwhelmingly melodious, eye-poppingly fabulous evening of vocal astonishment, and the cutest couple you will ever fall in love with.
Just wait until their very last song and you'll know what it is to fall in love with a couple hook, line, and sinker.
The LEGALLY BOUND band: Colin Dean on bass, Micah Burgess on guitar, Jeremy Yaddaw on drums, musical director Steven Jamail on piano and the singing wonders are Tim Kodres, Nikki Kimbrough, and Andrew Logan.
Photos by Stephen Mosher