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Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

With her personal story and her close friends, Jenn Gambatese uses her show to talk about tough topics.

How hard is it for you to tell your truth? Are you able to answer honestly when somebody asks how you are? Or do say that you're fine, or maybe tell people that they won't hear you complain, or perhaps you just smile. And you keep going. And it builds up inside you until something cracks. At what point do you tell your truth?

Jenn Gambatese is telling her truth. She's doing it with a little help from her friends, some of whom know her truth in more personal ways than they might have, at one time, wanted to admit, because it is their truth too. But, now, they are all telling their truth.

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Jenn Gambatese, star of eight Broadway plays, has been a victim of panic attacks. Her longtime best friend Jordan Ballard left Broadway and show business because of increasing experiences with the same affliction. And while the rest of the world looks at people like Jenn and Jordan with a wistful bit of envy because of their perceived successes, inside, the actresses are just two members of the Broadway community who have been overcome by panic while at work and engaged in the act of singing. That which the audiences did not know about these two actresses with thriving careers is out now because Jenn Gambatese is telling her truth.

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

One of the great things about being a celebrity is that you have a voice, you have a face, you have a platform. And if you choose to, you can use that visibility to spread information and to spread hope, and that is why the Jenn Gambatese show that opened last night at 54 Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Below is titled NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM. For this program during which Jenn recounts (with refreshing candor) her experiences with anxiety, she invites her friends to share the stage with her, to share their stories, and to offer their points of view as the people closest to her during those difficult moments. Some of the friends are her oldest, like Jordan and like Shoshana Bean, and some are newer friends, like Mrs. Doubtfire co-star Calvin Cooper, but the devotion the artists have for one another is palpable, and that's what keeps people on two solid feet during the tough times.

Now, dear readers, before anyone assumes that Jenn's show savors of a Doctor Phil episode or a TED Talk, please let the reporter report this: Jenn Gambatese is far too bubbly, far too optimistic, far too personable to allow that to happen. She may be here to open eyes, she may be here to offer hope, but Jenn Gambatese is an actress, an entertainer, a storyteller, and she knows that, as great as being a voice and a face with a platform is, her job is to perform, and, that, she does with all the tools in the arsenal that has kept her on Broadway, lo, these many years. In between chats with her best mates about life, life in show business, and the memories they have made over the years, Gambatese has curated Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below an assortment of musical offerings from two of the industry greats, two men who have a slight association with one another: Oscar Hammerstein II and Stephen Sondheim. With each of her guests taking a turn or two around the floor with musical selections from shows like Into the Woods, The King and I, Sunday in the Park With George, State Fair and Anyone Can Whistle, Gambatese provides the audience with musical storytelling of the highest quality, particularly from the likes of Joel Waggoner, who eats the stage and everything around it with his performances of "Hello, Little Girl" and "All I Owe, I Owe Ioway" (it's so nice to see a cabaret performer who isn't afraid of being as big as the entire room) and Shoshana Bean, who came over on her night off from Mr. Saturday Night, bringing with her every emotion that can be wrung out of "Being Alive," in that immaculate Shoshana Bean style. The conversation in NO ONE IS ALONE is serious, but so is the artists' focus on proper musical storytelling, and everyone delivers, particularly in a beautiful moment in which Jackie Seiden shares a video of her Grandmother demonstrating the healing power of music.

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

For herself, Gambatese leans into the Rodgers and Hammerstein canon (the work of these classics have clear resonance with the leading lady), favoring straightforward treatments of compositions like "I Have Confidence" and "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning." There are, though, delicious surprises in store, like an intricate and exciting arrangement melding that Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Beautiful Morning with "Take Me To The World" or a "My Favorite Things" duet with Cameron Adams that starts out traditional and transitions into an unexpected and self-assured jazz treatment. There is more to Gambatese than audiences that are accustomed to her sweetheart image might have considered. Oh, she is a sweetheart, to be sure - her kindness and authenticity lead the charge in this show - but there is no question that this actress known for Disney and Doubtfire has a moment coming when some producer with vision is going to ask her if she has ever considered playing Lady M. or Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. There are still waters and layers in this artist that go beyond her benevolence.

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

And on the topic of benevolence, it is extremely generous of Gambatese to use this show as a way to bring Jordan Ballard back to the stage after twelve years: watching Ballard blossom in the light and the safe space that is 54 Below was a gift for an audience that has missed her contribution to the arts. It is only natural that Jenn would want Jordan up on the stage with her, since the program was born out of a conversation the twosome had about their mutual experiences with anxiety and panic attacks. There is safety in numbers but there is also safety in the presence of a loved one who understands the journey, like Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Andrew Rannells, who stood protectively by, last night, as Jenn shared with the full house the story of an occasion when he was there to hold her hand and set her back on two feet after a mid-show panic attack. The relationship between the two friends, indeed all of Jenn's friends, doesn't just inform the proceedings, it reminds those of us in the audience of the times our own loved ones held us up, didn't judge us, and cared for us. The program is deeply rooted in humanity, it's just rooted in musical theater humanity, a blessing to be sure because any time Andrew Rannells is on a nightclub stage is a good thing. We need an Andrew Rannels show, soon. We also need a Calvin Cooper show because his two numbers last night (and his outfit!) were a revelation, especially a self-penned poetry piece centered around Mr. Sondheim that should be printed for all lovers and students of musical theater to commit to memory.

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

It's an important thing that Jenn Gambatese is doing with No One Is Alone, and it's an entertaining night of musical storytelling, especially since the spoken portion of the program is so natural and easygoing: Gambatese never feels either rehearsed or extemporaneous - she is a good orator. If this writer were to make one Cinderella-sized Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below wish, it would be that the program featured just a word or two about the meaning behind the musical choices as they pertain to the topic at hand and the lives of the artists. It's a small wish and probably one better left unexplored, since the show did run a little long, but a word or two of detail would have added additional insights and layers to a journey that was already a hit with the overflowing house of 54 Below patrons. They love Jenn Gambatese, and well they should. She is a lady and a star: she is also a conscientious celebrity who has made that all-important choice to take her art to a personal level, using the mixture of art and truth to shine light into the darkness, and art and truth are everything.

The No One Is Alone band is MD Jerry Korman on piano, Steve Count on bass and Eric Halvorson on drums

NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM features a different cast every night. To learn more about the cast of the August 9th, 7 pm show and to make reservations, visit the 54 Below website HERE.

HERE is the Jenn Gambatese website.

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below
Joel Waggoner

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below
Jordan Ballard

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below
Shoshana Bean

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below
Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below
Jackie Seiden

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below
Andrew Rannells

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below
Cameron Adams

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below
Calvin Cooper

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below

Review: Jenn Gambatese Illuminates With NO ONE IS ALONE: PERSPECTIVES OF HOPE FROM HAMMERSTEIN TO SONDHEIM at 54 Below Photos by Stephen Mosher

Visit the Stephen Mosher website HERE.


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