BWW Review: And I'm Tellin' You - JENNIFER HUDSON Is Amazing!

BWW Review: And I'm Tellin' You - JENNIFER HUDSON Is Amazing!

Jennifer Hudson WITH ORCHESTRA/Hollywood Bowl Orchestra's musical direction by Thomas Wilkins/Hollywood Bowl/reviewed July 7, 2018

Jennifer Hudson made her self-proclaimed, long-awaited debut at the Hollywood Bowl July 6 and 7, where she sang her silvery-fringed, mini-skirted butt off, totally charming her appreciative audience.

The evening program started off with the always charismatic conductor Thomas Wilkins leading the Hollywood Bowl orchestra in a brief half-hour of gorgeous feast-to-the-ears instrumentals via the Bowl's first-class sound system. (You can easily hear each instrument section distinctly.) Wilkins kicked off the night with a rousing rendition of Ellington's "The Giggling Rapids" from THE RIVER. Bernstein's "Times Square" from ON THE TOWN followed with rhythmic horns and sexy trumpets. The ambiance got more serious with the moody, lush strings and horns of the Bowl Orchestra interpreting John Williams' "Marion's Theme" from Raiders of the Lost Ark. The proficient Orchestra finished with Ginastera's "Malambo" from ESTANCIA. Unusual for the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the men were all in their white shirtsleeves, including Wilkins. They all looked uniformed striking playing in the atypical (even for Los Angeles) still-84-degree temperature at 9pm.

After intermission, the Bowl Orchestra led with a medley of DREAMGIRLS tunes accompanied by a limber group of hard-working dancers (five guys and five gals), with Jennifer immediately taking the stage with "Love You, I Do" (also from DREAMGIRLS). Jennifer's vocal prowess was certainly in superlative, peak form as her hellllld notes and high, hiiiiiiiiiiigh notes blended well, both with the full intricate orchestrations of the Bowl Orchestra and the simple piano tinkering of her nimble-fingered pianist Dave Jackson, as evidently used to great effect in a single song "Hallejujah," as well as, throughout the evening.

BWW Review: And I'm Tellin' You - JENNIFER HUDSON Is Amazing!Wilkins and his Orchestra sat out a few numbers ("Trouble," Jennifer's latest single "Burden Down," "It's Your World," and the medley "One Night Only/Saving All My Love") allowing Jennifer's band to rock the stage on their own.

Jennifer started out in high gear and never let up in her energy and her vocal intensity. She even nailed, NAILED "Golden Slumbers," later in her set, in what was obviously a higher key than any of her preceding pieces.

Her most complementary back-up vocalists, the Hudsonette's (George Huff, Siobhan McNear, Patrice Covington) took full advantage of taking centerstage when Jennifer went off stage to add a shear cape to her silver mini.

Jennifer maintained an easy-going, playful patter with the audience throughout. At one point, she conspiratorially admitted she included "We Gon' Fight" she wasn't planning on singing, due of a fan request. Jennifer even ventured out into the audience to dance with her adoring fans (young, elder, male, female) in a long vamping "It's Your World." Kudos to Jennifer for her smooth handling of an overzealous female fan who overstepped her face-to-face moment grabbing Jennifer's face with both hands and planting a kiss.

In Jennifer's tribute to Whitney Houston, her own distinctive version of "Saving All My Love For You" took the audience to an even higher ground, if that's even possible, after all the highs of the evening. After covering all the wonderful notes and phrasing that Whitney gave us, Jennifer effortlessly segued into her signature song from DREAMGIRLS that won her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar - "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going." The crowd went ballistic!

The encore had Jennifer's only full costume chance with a long, long, long flowing orange chiffon train that her dancers uncomfortably danced around and on. Jennifer, the consummate singer and entertainer, really needs no dancing visuals to make her singing alone, a complete show package. (Although some of the choreographed numbers did give her a chance to display her sweet dancing moves.)

Those who missed experiencing Jennifer Hudson live, can still catch her heartfelt mentoring abilities (and probably a few gorgeous vocal stylings) on the upcoming 15th season of The Voice on NBC. Who knows when Jennifer will perform live again; but know that you, and you, and you - you gonna loooooove her!!!

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From This Author Gil Kaan

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