Review: Wendy Scherl is Stunning in TOWN AND COUNTRY at the Laurie Beechman Theatre

By: Jan. 28, 2020
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Review: Wendy Scherl is Stunning in TOWN AND COUNTRY at the Laurie Beechman Theatre

When Wendy Scherl sang "Raise the Roof," the laughter of the audience was due in part to the lyrics - who wouldn't laugh at "Hold your mood and hold your bladder / Skip the food and stop the chatter," especially sung at a dinner theater - and in part due to Scherl's facial expressions and body language.

Throughout TOWN AND COUNTRY, the show she performed at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on Jan. 16, Scherl proved her talent, not just as a singer but as a well-rounded performer.

The show involved interspersing songs with tidbits about Scherl's life, such as how she spent her childhood around the piano with her father, saw her first Broadway show at the age of six, her first opera at the age of seven. As a 10-year-old, she auditioned for a school musical by singing "My Funny Valentine." In TOWN AND COUNTRY, she told the audience she would sing a song more suited to her, and proceeded to sing "The Lady Is a Tramp," a crowd favorite.

My personal favorite of the night was "New York Romance," and not just because the song itself paints a stunning picture of New York life (and the struggle that is trying to have a romantic life is America's largest metropolis). The song provided ample opportunities for Scherl to show off her strong voice, which is smooth and pleasant to listen to even if you don't get to watch her perform the songs.

Listening to Scherl sing makes it feel like you're in on the joke with her and the composer of the songs she's singing.

The nature of TOWN AND COUNTRY is that all the songs are eclectic - a given, since the premise of the show is that an urban girl can love country music, too. That said, they do have one important thing in common: every song in the setlist tells a story. They're all lyrically strong, like "Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy," during which Scherl went through a slight costume change, shrugging off her blazer and slipping into a fringed, black jacket.

But the real strength of the performance, in addition to Scherl's vocal performance, was the expressiveness of her face as she sang. The meaning of each song was clearly reflected in her eyes - she is a master at embodying the humor and lightness, the joie de vivre of a song like "Lovesick" while at the same time communicating the depth and seriousness of one like "The Song Remembers When." When Scherl sang "The Kindest Man," it seemed like this song was hers, a song written expressly for her to perform, in that club, in that moment, to elicit the feelings she drew out.

TOWN AND COUNTRY is a 16-song set, and I would be hard pressed to find a song that didn't delight, a song that didn't feel like Scherl was born to perform. It was an exceptional performance, fun in some places, emotional in others, and Scherl hit the right notes, both musically and emotionally, in every song.

Photo by Bill Westmoreland

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