Review: Hannah Jane Brings WOMEN OF AN ERA To Chelsea Table + Stage

Gifted vocalist Hannah Jane shines a light on female singers from the past.

By: May. 25, 2023
Review: Hannah Jane Brings WOMEN OF AN ERA To Chelsea Table + Stage

Hannah Jane has a beautiful voice, no one can deny that. Her silky vocals caressed compositions from classic hits, in her show “Women of an Era” which played at Chelsea Table + Stage on Tuesday, May 23rd. With special guest, the superb Ari Axelrod, and clever transitions between depictions of iconic figures Judy Garland, Jane Powell, Lucille Ball, and more, the audience was carried into a history Hannah wants to ensure they never forget. 

Review: Hannah Jane Brings WOMEN OF AN ERA To Chelsea Table + Stage

Admittedly, these icons are icons because they are powerful women who are preserved for their onscreen idiosyncrasies and backstage lure. The latter, the lure, is what Hannah Jane used in her transitions, rather than trying to mimic the icons themselves. This was an excellent choice, as it allowed the singer to remain true to her own vocals and expressions, while alluding to the greats through a cleverly crafted script that guided the audience with vignettes that connect one star to another. “I’m Princess Leia’s mother” (i.e. Debbie Reynolds) and “Ms. Reynolds may score a point for clowning but Powell scores two for softness” (i.e. Jane Powell). In the latter transition, Hannah Jane utilized her music director Michael Levine, who carried the ingenue throughout the evening seamlessly. Hannah Jane’s mother, Steffanie Peterson, playing the flute publicly for the first time in 9 years, also joined her for a number. 

Hannah Jane's voice is gorgeous, one could listen to her all evening and not tire of it. Her repertoire in this show was not an easy one and included “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” paired with “Always Chasing Rainbows” in a pretty medley,  “Que Sera Sera”, “My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time”, “Hey Look Me Over”, “Tammy” and many others. 

The audience followed the setlist with bingo cards that had words from the songs listed in each square, with pink chips. Review: Hannah Jane Brings WOMEN OF AN ERA To Chelsea Table + Stage Hannah Jane’s only stipulation for yelling bingo was that it shouldn’t be while she was actually singing. There were three winners early in the show, after which the audience was through with the game and could focus their full attention on Hannah Jane. The prize? A copy of HJ's mother's book, “The Hot Mess Express: The Peterson Girls Adventures,” about the family moving from West Virginia to the Big Apple. 

Hannah also utilized small shifts in her costume, donning black gloves, adding a jacket, a hat, both, a red poppy pin, and balancing a book on her head (for Comedienne Lucille Ball). These suggested the stars, in addition to Hannah clearly telling the audience who they were watching, in order to organize the evening, with help from her director, Coco Cohn. The program is well-directed, and very rehearsed - perhaps too rehearsed. This critique is only offered as a constructive aside, not to take away from the fact that the singer is bursting with talent, ability, and charisma. However, one wishes that the show had more of an element of spontaneity and allowed the audience to make their own conclusions, without being told, repeatedly, what they already could determine. Perhaps the costumes, stories, and repeated assurance that the audience heard the name of who they were viewing could have been simplified by one of these theatrical devices. The singer should trust that her own prowess is enough, and the dropping of some of these tactics would clip away some of the constraints, which, at times, felt so tightly managed that she remained caged instead of flying free. 

As the evening of Hollywood and Broadway lure drew to a close (and prior to a lengthy thank you to nearly everyone in the room) Hannah allowed the gauze of the facade to drop when she told the audience, “And I’m Hannah Jane.” Of course, everyone knew that, but it signaled the end of a journey with a clever button to the evening. 

The singer has a long career ahead of her, and the audience was already salivating with anticipation for her next show, which alludes to include (or perhaps be centered around) country legend, Reba McEntire

Review: Hannah Jane Brings WOMEN OF AN ERA To Chelsea Table + Stage

Hannah Jane’s website can be accessed HERE

Ari Axelrod’s website can be found HERE

Michael Levine’s website is available HERE

Chelsea Table + Stage has a website HERE