Bebe Neuwirth Sings Weill and Kander & Ebb

Do stars ever diminish in either luminosity or presence? Absolutely not. Bebe Neuwirth proves that once a star, always a star. Judging by the applause at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, her audience agrees. Stepping onto the stage in a short black dress and heels, she had the audience at her beck and call before she had sung her first note.

Choosing not waste time with idle chit chat and backstory, she went directly into "All That Jazz", and unbeknownst to others, she messed up. Yup, she painted the town – twice, proving that she is human, even if she possesses talents many would kill for.

Her sultry alto captivated her audience. Though not exceptional in range, her vocal tone is splendid, and exudes a mix of sexiness and control, oozing emotion and expression into her songs. In the "Saga of Jenny" she does not merely sing a song, but acts it – and you feel the character, as much as if you had been seeing "Here Lies Jenny" in theater. While the songs of Kurt Weill are not as familiar, and thus not as memorable, they leave you with a memory of the sentiments that you felt as Bebe sang his songs. It must be noted, however, that her French sounded marvelous in "Je ne t'aime pas". Whether or not you know French in the slightest, you understand exactly what the song is about, for Bebe's voice is filled with painful emotion.

However, when singing the songs of Kander & Ebb, a sense of familiarity kicks in, perhaps making one more comfortable with the material, and thus, with Bebe herself. I was able to sway along with the music, and of course, catch any mistakes (there was only one, by the way). Bebe Neuwirth is the essence of Chicago. The cool sexiness and charisma of her singing is hypnotizing by virtue of her acting. Standing out was "Class" and "How Lucky Can You Get".

The audience was certainly lucky – Bebe proves herself to be capable of giving concerts, especially when led by a lovely orchestra, skillfully conducted by Leslie Stifelman. While I was disappointed that Bebe didn't dance, she didn't really have to do move at all, in order to feel the power of the songs she chose. Everything you need to know is in her voice. You just have to listen.




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From This Author Shira Greenberg

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