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Review: The Phenomenal Cynthia Erivo Simply WOWS In Her Hollywood Bowl Debut!

Cynthia Erivo’s powerful vocals backed by her raw, genuine emotions ignited all!

Review: The Phenomenal Cynthia Erivo Simply WOWS In Her Hollywood Bowl Debut!

CYNTHIA ERIVO WITH THE LA PHIL/conducted by Thomas Wilkins/ Hollywood Bowl/reviewed July 30, 2021

The Hollywood Bowl audience, filled with theatre aficionados and people with an appreciation for great singing, got their money's worth and much more with a full-bodied, whole-hearted concert performance by the incredible Cynthia Erivo. Cynthia's powerful vocals backed by her raw, genuine emotions ignited all her cover versions of other women's definitive classics making them all distinctly her own.

Review: The Phenomenal Cynthia Erivo Simply WOWS In Her Hollywood Bowl Debut! As great as those covers were, an original that Cynthia wrote for her first album Ch. 1 VS. 1 (to be released September 17th on Verve Records) was THE STUNNING showstopper of the evening! "You're Not Here," which Cynthia wrote about her dad, had Cynthia openly weeping throughout her soul-revealing performance of her song. Those big video screens on the sides of the Bowl's shell really show fantastic close-ups! I think the best way to experience a Cynthia Erivo concert is not only to have a great sound system (which the Bowl has in spades!), but to have huge video screens to see the truthful authenticity on Cynthia's very revealing expressive face. The Bowl audience gave her a deservedly standing ovation for her original song about losing her dad.

Cynthia sang two more of her originals from Ch. 1 VS. 1 - less dramatically heartbreaking than "You're Not Here" (as she described), "The Good" and "Glowing Up." Cynthia placed her own stamp on Sting's "Fragile" and Annie Lennox' "Sweet Dreams" with her own unique combination of vocal and acting prowess.

Review: The Phenomenal Cynthia Erivo Simply WOWS In Her Hollywood Bowl Debut! The L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra, adeptly led by Thomas Wilkins, began the evening festivities with a rousing "Star Spangled Banner," immediately followed by "The Overture" from Jule Styne's FUNNY GIRL. The Maestro gave Cynthia a most accurate introduction when he raved about her, "A voice that will make your head spin!"

Then... Cynthia Erivo. Made. Her. Entrance. And WHAT an entrance she made! Gorgeously decked out in a white mini-dress with a wedding gown-length train, all of huge white roses. So appropriate that Cynthia's opening song was also from Jule Styne. When you think of "Don't Rain On My Parade," which singer do you associate that song with? Cynthia's version was no carbon copy of Barbra's. It was like hearing "Parade" as a fresh new song, with Cynthia beautifully holding her crystal clear last note for a loooong hold. Another song I associate with another fine singer (Dame Shirley Bassey) "I Who Have Nothing;" Cynthia's take on this song brought chills!

Review: The Phenomenal Cynthia Erivo Simply WOWS In Her Hollywood Bowl Debut! Cynthia paid homage to a number of her friends and early idols in her wonderful inclusion of an exquisite a cappella "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (Roberta Flack), "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" (Nina Simone), "My Life (Mary J. Blige) and, of course, songs of Aretha Franklin, who she portrayed in National Geographic's Genius: Aretha - "I Never Loved a Man," "Ain't No Way" and "Freeway of Love."

As glammed up as Cynthia Erivo can get (kudos to stylist Jason Bolden), this Diva kept herself grounded, literally, by performing her show completely barefoot. Cynthia returned for her second act in a lovely, puffy pink/white/black long skirted confection of a dress. This Lady Has Style, with a capital 'S."

Complementing the lush musical back-up she received from Thomas Wilkins and the LA Phil, Cynthia's own smoking band, sharply led by musical director Rickey Minor, featured: Errol Cooney (guitar), Carlitos Del Puerto (bass), Teddy Campbell (drums), Kevin Ricard (percussion), Herman Jackson (keyboards) and Wayne Linsey (keyboards).

Review: The Phenomenal Cynthia Erivo Simply WOWS In Her Hollywood Bowl Debut! Cynthia's back-up singers (Jessi Collins, Navanna Holley, Allison Iraheta and Matthew Johnson) tunefully filled in the occasional harmonies where vocal accents were needed.

Screenwriter/producer/actress Lena Waithe presented Cynthia on stage with a HUGE bouquet of roses before her last song.

Cynthia closed her show thanking those on stage with her and those in the audience, wishing all to be with "happy vibes" as we drive home with the very happy-vibed strains of her final song "Freeway of Love."

We all followed our Diva's instructions.

For other Hollywood Bowl concerts, log onto www.hollywoodbowl.com

Look for Cynthia Erivo's debut album of twelve original songs Ch. 1 VS 1 to be released September 17, 2021 on Verve.

Regional Awards


From This Author - Gil Kaan

      Gil Kaan, a former Managing Editor of the now-defunct Genre magazine, has had the privilege of photographing and interviewing some major divas of film, television, and stage in... (read more about this author)


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