BWW Review: SOUNDS FROM THE HEART at The Green Room 42
Heigh Ho Friends & "Family"! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in CABARET to bring you all the T.
So, my loves, what do you do when a YOUNG tween BROADWAY VETERAN named Eleanor Koski (of Les Miz) asks you to join her in a Cabaret she's producing? Well, when you are any of her teen peers with talent and that burgeoning thirst to perform, or her admirable adult colleagues, apparently you say yes - especially when proceeds are going to the very worthy National Association of the Deaf. Koski has put together an afternoon's entertainment that, at first blush, might make you think it's another installment of GR42's (YOUNG) series, but this is a presentation all her own, with expertly executed and acted ASL Interpretation by Beth Applebaum and Patrick Coble.
Now sometimes, my darlings, Bobby must put the rain in his rainbows by putting the critic in critique, and so, I have to say that our wonderful interpreters suffered a bit sightline-wise as we found their position USL (that's "upstage left" for those of you who aren't stage savvy... But let's face it, all of you are) obscured at times, as the singers lined up across DSC cutting off our view of the beautiful gestural communications. (Oh Ok... DOWN STAGE CENTER!) This brings us to a quick word about The National Association of the Deaf ( NAD ). Benefitting from the afternoon's ticket sales, the NAD is dedicated to mending communications between the deaf and hearing worlds at all levels, most importantly urging our education system to fully integrate ASL at all levels of learning, regardless of whether students are hearing or hearing impaired.
Now, very few of the entertainers at the 2 pm show were old enough to order anything above a Shirley Temple, but this does not mean they were short on talent. Most of the young people were, like Koski herself, kids with Broadway credits. The hilarious and charming Nirvaan Pal made a bit out of fumbling to find his guitar pick and then gave forth a simple and touching, self-accompanied rendition of the ubiquitous "Hallelujah". Koski and Kennedy Ramos were charming singing "For Good" from WICKED and Eli Tokash (Finding Neverland) sang his most recent Broadway show's title song "Neverland" well and with a control and pathos far beyond his 16 years. Gianna Harris ( School Of Rock) sang the very adult "Best Part" with smokey resonance, and we tried to not visibly blanch at lyrics about "Waking up and Making Love" coming from a 14-year-old.
There were adult performers in the show, too, including Shereen Pimentel (The Juilliard undergrad will be Broadway's next Maria in West Side Story 2020) who gave a soaring "Let It Go" in a Frozen medley she shared with the talented Monroe George and Sam Duggar. Patti Lohr's (Sweeny Todd) "What Baking Can Do" wowed the crowd, leaving us hoping there's a WAITRESS apron out there waiting for her. Total eye candy Paris Nesbitt wailed the roof off with his "Lost In The Wilderness" and Bill Coyne's handsome looks and powerful voice left us wondering why he has not yet scored a Broadway musical after his "Proud Lady" left us breathless.
The whole entertainment was loosely tied together by our host (and fellow youngSTAR --see what I did there?) Diego Lucano (School Of Rock), who's stumble bumble hosting was at its best when he sheepishly looked up from the notes he was reading off of to see if we were getting the jokes. Lucano wrapped the show by performing Billy Joel's "Longest Time" with assistance from John Koski, Eli Tokash, Eduardo Jimenez-Pons & Kelvin Martin. Well voiced, but one wonders what motivated the choice to add piano accompaniment to this A Capella masterpiece.
This was Songs From The Heart's second installment, and given the charming time we had, as well as the surprises of vocal power and performing nuance from the young people, to say nothing of the Broadway-caliber of ALL of the singers, we can very much recommend your seeing any future versions of this fine show, and supporting its worthy cause.
At just a little bit over an hour, this show was perfectly suited for a mid-afternoon distraction.
We give this show 3 ½ Rainbows out of 5.