Review: JENNIFER SIMARD: CAN I GET YOUR NUMBER? is a Comic Treasure Trove at 54 Below

Jennifer Simard Takes Centerstage at 54 Below

By: Apr. 01, 2023
Review: JENNIFER SIMARD: CAN I GET YOUR NUMBER? is a Comic Treasure Trove at 54 Below

Review: JENNIFER SIMARD: CAN I GET YOUR NUMBER? is a Comic Treasure Trove at 54 Below "I'm usually the second banana to some legendary star." That is how Jennifer Simard described herself at the top of her new one-woman show Jennifer Simard: CAN I GET YOUR NUMBER? Which returned last night to 54 Below after a two-night run in January. It is entirely accurate. For years she has been creating beautifully-crafted comedic supporting roles on Broadway. She is one of the most reliable character actors in the business. But last night she took center stage in a show that saluted some of those "legendary stars." She dedicated the songs to her co-stars and role models, but the magic is entirely hers.

From the moment she appeared in the audience singing "One Night Only" from Dreamgirls, sliding down a banister like a wacky Mame, you knew you were in for a comedic master class. She is an excellent mimic, a powerhouse singer, and, in the end, a sensitive and truthful actor. She is living proof of Elaine Stritch's maxim, "To play comedy, you have to be real." Jennifer Simard is absolutely the real deal.

Review: JENNIFER SIMARD: CAN I GET YOUR NUMBER? is a Comic Treasure Trove at 54 Below

Her first number was a tribute to her Shrek co-star, Sutton Foster. "More to the Story" was cut out of town. She played the song totally straight, leaving the comedy to her special guest star, fellow Shrek cast member, Christopher Seiber. It was slapstick worthy of Lucy and Ethel. She next turned to a loving send-up of her Hello, Dolly! leading lady, Bernadette Peters. She found every nuance of her trademark vocals in "Broadway Baby." She then showed off her unexpected soprano in "Unexpected Song" from Song & Dance. Simard then switched it up, paying honor to not a leading lady, but to the Horace Vandergelder to her Ernestina, Victor Garber. She explained that one of her childhood traditions was, each Sunday, listening to the cast album of Godspell. She duetted on "All For the Best" with her music director Steve Marzullo, and she accompanied herself with a battery of homemade percussion.

She continued by paying homage to the legendary Betty Buckley, who became her superfan during the run of Disaster. Again with Marzullo, she gave us one of Buckley's signature tunes from The Mystery of Edwin Drood, "Two Kinsmen." Simard turned to music by Jacques Brel to not only honor patriots fighting in Ukraine but to pay tribute to her Hello Dolly! co-star, Donna Murphy. Her version of "Sons Of" was in homage to Murphy's late husband, Shawn Elliott, who was in the original cast of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. Since Jennifer had already sung the praises of the other Dollys of Hello, Dolly!, she tipped her hat to Bette Midler, with a beautifully acted version of "Before the Parade Passes By."

Ms. Simard had the audience in stitches with Michael Devon's "Hurt Someone's Feelings Today." She saluted a leading lady she never worked with but who, nonetheless, had great significance to her life when she sang "Never" from On the Twentieth Century to honor fellow comic genius, Madeline Kahn. Finally, Jennifer Simard got around to singing a song that she originated, "I Will Be Loved Tonight" from I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. It was made all the more special by the presence of I Love You, You're Perfect lyricist/librettist Joe DiPietro in the audience. Another wonderful guest in the audience was Barbara Barrie. Jennifer Simard played the role of Sarah in the revival of Company, that Barrie created in the original 1970 production. She dedicated her perfect "The Ladies Who Lunch" to her, as well as Patti LuPone.

Review: JENNIFER SIMARD: CAN I GET YOUR NUMBER? is a Comic Treasure Trove at 54 Below

In the final section of the concert, Jennifer dedicated the Beatles' "Yesterday" to the much-loved Rebecca Luker. She told a great story about Faith Prince narrowly missing out on playing Audrey in the original Little Shop of Horrors. She punctuated the story, with a fantastic reading of "Somewhere That's Green." She finished out her show with her awesome song from Disaster, "Never Can Say Goodbye."

Jennifer Simard was marvelously supported by the wonderful Steve Marzullo on piano. Their encore was a heartfelt version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Edelweiss" that became an audience sing-along, In the last verse, she very poignantly switched the lyric to "Bless YOUR homeland forever. " In a world where democracy seems to hang by a thread, it was a beautiful reminder that we are all in this life together. As I said before, Jennifer Simard is the real deal.

Review: JENNIFER SIMARD: CAN I GET YOUR NUMBER? is a Comic Treasure Trove at 54 Below

Jennifer Simard continues her run of CAN I GET YOUR NUMBER at 54 Below on Saturday, April 1. For tickets and information go to 54below.com. To learn more about Ms. Simard, visit her website jennifersimard.com, or follow her @thejennifersimard on Instagram.



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