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BWW Review: SIERRA BOGGESS Makes Joyful Music at 54 Below

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Sierra Boggess Returns to 54 Below Sep. 8-11

BWW Review: SIERRA BOGGESS Makes Joyful Music at 54 Below

Sierra Boggess is a rare example of a type of performer that is quickly disappearing from the modern musical theatre, the ballsy soprano ingenue. She comes from a heritage that includes Barbara Cook, Joan Diener, Carol Lawrence, Patricia Morrison, Julie Andrews, Christine Ebersole, Audra McDonald, Marin Mazzie, Rebecca Luker, Kristin Chenoweth, and Laura Benanti. Boggess' meteoric career has been built around a fascinating duality of character. She can play the most elegant and sophisticated of characters while still retaining an innocence and a self-deprecating folkiness that comes from her love of nature and her upbringing in Colorado. That duality has lead to a marvelous diversity in her roles. Whether in The Little Mermaid, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Love Never Dies, Master Class, or School of Rock, Sierra Boggess always feels like the girl next door who is much brainier than she gets credit for.

The one constant in all those roles is a heavenly voice that sounds so effortless it hides the stunning technique that lies beneath. She has a lightness of tone that is completely conversational in every register and diction that is enviable. But beyond all these technical gifts, Boggess is masterful at living inside any given lyric without imposing anything on it. She just lets the words do the work. In that, she is a worthy successor to Barbara Cook.

BWW Review: SIERRA BOGGESS Makes Joyful Music at 54 Below

Her self-titled show, which opened tonight at 54 Below, concentrated on joyful songs for the most part. Songs that lift the spirit and celebrate the human connection of being in a room together. She kept it very simple, only herself and the marvelously gifted Joseph Thalken on piano. She opened with the beautiful "Home" from Maury Yeston's Phantom, which means something entirely new in this post-lockdown world. She dived right into her fan favorites, singing "Beyond My Wildest Dreams" from The Little Mermaid. It fit in perfectly with the joyful tone of the evening. She let her droll sense of humor shine in a version of "Think of Me" sung in four different styles, representing the productions of Phantom she's been associated with. She sang in English, French, Japanese, and a special Vegas version ala Britney Spears.

She paid tribute to some of those tough ingenues from ages past in " Will He Like Me? " from She Loves Me and "My White Knight" from The Music Man. Her point is well made. These characters were not pushovers. They were strong, badass women. She took an introspective moment with the very thoughtful Sherman Brothers tune "If'n I Was God" from Tom Sawyer.

She let us in on some of the things he's been doing during the pandemic. The most interesting was going home to Colorado where she spent some time climbing some of the state's 53 mountains with an elevation over 14,000 feet. She had an inspiring story about climbing to the summit of the highest mountain in the state, Mount Elbert which culminated in a hysterical version of "The Sound of Music" followed by "I Could Have Danced All Night." She channeled her inner jazz diva, combining the great standard "The Nearness of You" with Sondheim's "Loving You." Joseph Thalken was particularly marvelous on this number.

BWW Review: SIERRA BOGGESS Makes Joyful Music at 54 Below

One of the other things she did during the pandemic was to read the old love letters she found that had been written by her grandparents during the Second World War. She read a few of them for us. They were gorgeous and romantic. She used them as a prelude to a medley of two songs from that era, "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and " You'll Never Know."

The most touching moment of the evening was a beautifully sung medley from The Secret Garden, dedicated to the much-missed Rebecca Luker. I confess that "How Could I Ever Know?" brought a tear to my eye. She ended her beautiful evening with a visit with Christine Daae, singing "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again." She returned to the stage for an encore of "No One Is Alone" from Into the Woods, reminding us of her famous mantra, "You are enough. You are SO enough. It's incredible how enough you are!" It's safe to say everyone in the audience feels the same about Sierra Boggess.

BWW Review: SIERRA BOGGESS Makes Joyful Music at 54 Below

Sierra Boggess will perform again at 54 Below September 9-11. For tickets and information go to 54below.com. To learn more about Sierra Boggess, visit sierraboggess.com or follow her @sierraboggess on Twitter or @officialsierraboggess on Instagram.


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