BWW Reviews: Kristin Towers-Rowles Brings A LOVELY LINEAGE to Sierra Madre
On Sunday July 24, actress/singer Kristin Towers-Rowles debuted her one-woman cabaret A Lovely Lineage at Sterling's Upstairs @ Vitello's to resounding success. The amazing singer, who is the grand daughter of legendary MGM musical star Katharine Grayson and Broadway veteran Johnnie Johnston, saluted them both as well as her musical comedy performing parents Patty and Robert Towers. Although the young descendant of American show business royalty has a stupendous background, her life has not been that rosy. Playing a role onstage in a show called Veggie Tales, Towers-Rowles popped a disc in her back from wearing a 50-pound costume and was told she would never appear on stage again. She made a near complete recovery and although she still is in pain, exclaims, "If I have to hurt, I might as well hurt on stage." It is this unsinkable brave spirit that is present in her beautiful singing voice, in her glowing personality and overall captivating aura. She has an infectious sense of humor as well.
With great musical director Joe Symon at the piano and providing background vocals and Mike Deutsch on drums, Towers-Rowles glided through a 50-minute set that included: a cute parody of "Broadway Baby" called "Hollywood Baby" to set the appropriate tone, the funny "Vanilla Ice Cream" from She Loves Me, that suits her vocal prowess so very well, the ever beloved "Popular" from Wicked, "He Plays the Violin" from 1776, Sondheim's meaningful "Move On" from Sunday in the Park with George, a beautiful song by Maury Yeston "New Words" and as encore Sondheim's delightful "Lovely". She showed great comedic purpose with "Shroeder" from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, feigning a playful seduction of Symon around the piano. The medley in honor of Grayson included: "Make Believe", "Can't Help Loving That Man", "I Hate Men" and "You Are Love". In salute to her grandfather she ably performed a 40s rendition of "Unchained Melody".
It is difficult to argue with real talent and Kristin Towers-Rowles has it in spades. She has the gift of song from Kathryn Grayson and all the other ingredients so important for success that have been lovingly passed on to her by A Lovely Lineage. May she continue to use them well and prosper!
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Well, she certainly has! On Sunday, February 15, 2015 at the Sierra Madre Playhouse, Towers-Rowles brought a totally new rendition of A Lovely Lineage to the stage. The show has grown and grown. No rough edges here, only smooth ones with expert Ross Kalling at the piano, and vibrant direction from Cate Caplin...and with special guest, fabulous tenor Craig McEldowney whose duets with Towers-Rowles added real operatic flavor to the Show Boat and Kiss Me, Kate segments.
Towers-Rowles opened with the self-assurance of a diva as she essayed "Hollywood Baby". Paying tribute to Kathryn Grayson, she and McEldowney sang glorious renditions of "Make Believe", "You Are Love", "Wunderbar" and "So In Love". How wonderful to hear real legit singing onstage! It is so rarely produced nowadays. The two worked wonders as they richly duplicated the dynamic prowess of Grayson and Howard Keel from those great film days. Towers-Rowles also performed "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" from Lovely To Look At, a simply gorgeous "Before I Gaze at You Again" from Camelot - Grayson replaced Julie Andrews on Broadway - and the lovely "Vanilla Ice Cream" from She Loves Me, which Towers-Rowles' mother Patricia played on the road. There was also a tribute to her dad Robert Towers with "My New Philosophy" from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Robert Towers played Snoopy in that show originally.
Towers-Rowles talked lovingly about her own life with husband Ryan Rowles and their three daughters with vocal choices "A Quiet Thing" from Flora the Red Menace and the powerful "Our Story Goes On" from Baby. Especially courageous is how she overcame her back injury to perform again and keeps the performances going as she also maintains a 24/7 life with her own family.
McEldowney did some outstanding solo work on "Laura", "She Loves Me" and with "What Could Be Better" in duet with KTR from Baby.
Kristin Towers-Rowles is a magnificent talent and personality as well as a wonderful actress. She speaks with great candor about the ingenue that was Kathryn Grayson and how really at heart she was feisty and outspoken like she has become herself. I would like to have heard a couple of funny stories about how Grayson supposedly slapped Mario Lanza whenever he got fresh with her or...but Towers-Rowles kept the ball rolling in the show, concentrating on the beautiful music. As is A Lovely Lineage is a lovely musical show, made more vibrant and alive with Caplin's fine staging and the presence of Craig McEldowney, whose great talent as a vocalist is emerging more and more. Don't miss either performer...they are dynamite!