BWW Review: Oh Baby! KARA LINDSAY: #PREGNANTAF Charms at Feinstein's / 54 Below
Baby, Kara Lindsay is #PregnantAF and she's got somthing to sing about it.
In her charming new solo-show that debuted last night at Feinstein's / 54 Below, the delightful musical theatre performer (and comedienne) proves that if life upon the Wicked stage can never really prepare you for the unexpected joys (and terrors) of pending motherhood, it can provide a joyous place of support and inspiration.
With her wide eyes and the quicksilver soprano of a Disney princess, it's easy to see why Kara Lindsay has forged her career as one of Broadway's most stalwart ingenues. Best known for playing the teenage Katherine Porter in the original production of NEWSIES and Glinda in the long-running WICKED, Lindsay had finally graduated to grown-up turns when just days before a return engagement as Cynthia Weill in the musical BEAUTIFUL, she found out she was about to grow in, well, a whole new way...
Eight months later (and in the home stretch) Lindsay, through song and hilarious testimonial, is now ready to kick off her shoes (literally) and fill you in on what it means to juggle Broadway and babies with all the unexpected highs, lows, raging hormones and cravings for bacon that come along with it.
With spirited support from musical director, Benjamin Rauhala and guitarist, Eric Davis, and a frequent (lovable) nervous giggle that seems to say "how did I ever end up here?" Lindsay proves a clever and winning host.
From a robust (and playfully ironic) opening of Shania Twain's ode to classic femininity, "Man, I Feel Like a Woman, to a medley of tunes from BEAUTIFUL, recounting the challenges of performing eight times a week during that oh-so-fun first trimester (hint: morning sickness isn't just for mornings) when pregnant brain presents such important quandaries as: 'what kind of musical theatre child character will my baby be?" Lindsay embraces the full fun (and fatigue) heart (and humor) that comes when a 'solo' act suddenly becomes 'a duet.'
In Lindsay's hands, a tongue-in-cheek take on " I Will Never Leave You' from SIDE SHOW (with support from WICKED co-star Laurel Harris) gets the maternity twist, and reflective interludes from the wistful ("Sleepy Man" from THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM) to the cautiously optimistic "Ooh Child" mixed earnestly with "Over the Rainbow" provide moments of concern and hope for a child entering the world in decidedly uncertain times. And with a duet of "I Can't Wait" from the musical BRIGHT STAR with her husband, performer Kyle Massey, the evening's most moving moment comes as the two share the breathless anticipation of meeting their son for the first time.
Entertainment is notoriously an industry where physical perfection and the need for spur of the moment flexibility are a given (and stability is anything but) and Lindsay admits pregnancy doesn't come without moments of fear about what the future will hold. But in the New York theatre community, she has found comradery. Joined by a warm sorority of fellow new moms ( Broadway's Stephanie Martignetti and Katie Rose Clarke) a beautiful trio of the hopeful "A Million Dreams" from THE GREATEST SHOWMAN is a highlight.
With so little to be sure of, Lindsay, whose moxie often brings to mind a winning hero of a 1930s movie, nevertheless, embraces the future, rounding out the evening with a spirited pairing of "Seize the Day" and "Watch What Happens" from NEWSIES, receiving the evening's biggest applause in the process.
Pausing to think back on the journey behind her, Lindsay remembers that the song that landed her Broadway debut was "Our Story Goes On" from the musical BABY; a perennial go-to for young belters who actually have no idea what the song (of a soon to give birth mother) is really about. Watching Lindsay revisit the piece now with all the full wonder and discovery of the truth behind the lyrics is thrilling.
As the evening draws to a close, Lindsay confesses her realization that when it comes to linking her career on Broadway to her next role as a new mother, she is ever aware of music as the connective fiber. Ending with a medley of "You Are My Sunshine" and "Pennies from Heaven," two standards her mother sang to her as a toddler and that she imagines her son will, in turn, teach to his own children, Kara Lindsay brings the chain of motherhood to a beautiful full-circle reconciliation. With love, and perhaps even a tear or two rolling down her cheeks, baby, you can be sure that's a sweet and beautiful song indeed.
Follow Kara Lindsay at @karalindsay1