A Showstopping AMT Live Concert

By: Apr. 13, 2024
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Following a last-minute relocation of the event due to the flooding of the river Seine, Broadway’s Leading Ladies, scheduled for the barge venue Son de la Terre, took place at the Auguste Théâtre, an intimate musical-friendly theater near the Père la Chaise cemetery.  Switching from piano bar atmosphere to a legitimate theater feel created a challenge which Miranda Crispin and her prestigious guests easily rose to.

The appropriate opening “Beautiful Girls” from Follies, brilliantly played on the piano by Ed Zanders (fresh from serving as musical director for Passion at Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester and the Sondheim tribute Old Friends in the West End) led on to the great Ria Jones (who previously starred in Paris in 42nd Street at Châtelet in 2016 and Guys and Dolls at Marigny in 2019), humorously delivering “Broadway Baby” from the same show. 

Miranda Crispsin (currently musical director for the first French-language version of Waitress, following the successful production of Pippin last year at Théâtre Barnabé, which Stephen Schwartz himself came to see in Lausanne, Switzerland) graced us with the Gershwin ballade “Someone To Watch Over Me”, followed by the classically trained Estonia-born Elizabeth Paavel, delivering “Just You Wait” from My Fair Lady

Fresh from her showstopping portrayal of The Lady of the Lake in the revival of Spamalot at Théâtre de Paris, the irrepressible Lauren Van Kempen treated us to a Kristin Chenoweth specialty number from her nightclub act, “The Girl in 14G” by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan (Thorougly Modern Millie), followed by a duet from Crispin and Paavel, “Every Little Death” from A Little Night Music, reprised from the Broadway Sondheim concert of last year. 

Ria Jones followed with a personal rendition of Sondheim’s most popular song, “Send in the Clowns”, also from Night Music, leading on to a more humorous duet with her fellow Welsh countrywoman Lauren Shields, “Bosom Buddies” from Mame, before teaming up again later with the tongue-in-cheek “Class” from Chicago, after Shields delivered a rousing solo of "Don't Rain on My Parade" from Funny Girl. Next, Crispin brought her touch of contemporary Broadway with a heartfelt “Always Better” from Jason Robert Brown’s underrated Bridges of Madison County

The last two highlights of Act 1 were Van Kempen’s rendition of the risqué “Everybody’s Girl” from Kander and Ebb’s legendary 1997 flop Steel Pier and Jones’s spectacular “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy, recreating her portrayal of the King Lear of musical theater roles, Mama Rose, which she played at Manchester Royal Exchange in 2019. 

“As If We Never Said Goodbye” was a spectacular Act 2 opener, with Jones channeling for us another character that fit her light a glove, Sunset Boulevard's Norma Desmond, which she first got to sing for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, arguably his best work, when she was too young for the part before receiving laurels when she stood in for Glenn Close for the concert revival at the London Coliseum in 2016. 

Crispin followed with “Manhattan Bridge” from her highly successful chamber piece production of the off-Broadway musical Next Thing You Know before Paavak emotionally delivered “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” from Phantom of the Opera, leading on to “Vanilla Ice Cream” from She Loves Me, with Van Kempen in top form again. 

“Anybody Have a Map” a duet with Crispin and Van Kempen, incarnating the two mothers from Dear Evan Hansen, led on to a Disney princess medley by Shields, paving the way for Jones delivery of the title song from Beauty and the Beast

The three highlights that concluded Act 2 were Crispin’s personal rendition of “Defying Gravity” from Wicked, a beautifully arranged Lloyd Webber trio mashing up unexpected songs form Song and Dance, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Jesus Christ Superstar, and a triumphant version of “I Am What I Am” from Jerry Herman’s La Cage aux Folles

The legendary Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland duet to “Get Happy”/“Happy Days Are Here Again” was a perfect encore for those five glorious leading ladies and their marvelous accompanist, bringing the glamour and star quality of the West End and Broadway to the Paris fringe for a first-class one night only at the August Théâtre.


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