BWW Review: Broadway Tonight Welcomes the Iconic Faith Prince In Concert
Broadway Tonight, the performing arts series at the University of Central Oklahoma, recently welcomed Tony Award winner Faith Prince to its historic Mitchell Hall stage.
Ms. Prince first appeared on Broadway over 30 years ago - and many times since - earning her status as a living legend and one of Broadway's preeminent Divas.
In this lovely, intimate concert - just Faith and music industry icon Michael Orland (Associate Music Director for American Idol) at the piano - audiences were treated not only to Ms. Prince's signature zaniness and piercing belt, but also her warm soprano and magnetic stillness.
She opened the evening with the Sondheim classic "Broadway Baby" - a certified status Ms. Prince has most certainly attained and earned - and continued into hit songs from some of her most well-known roles, "Adelaide's Lament" from her Tony-winning performance of GUYS AND DOLLS, and "Other Side of the Tracks" from LITTLE ME. Throughout the evening she introduced us to lesser-known gems like the Betty Hutton song "Hard Way" and the Rosemary Clooney classic "Sweet Kentucky Ham." She shared hilarious and heartfelt tales of working with legendary director Jerome Robbins, interspersing stories with songs "I Still Get Jealous" and "Gotta Get A Gimmick" from her Broadway debut in Jerome Robbins BROADWAY.
One of my favorite performances of the evening was "Crossword Puzzle" from STARTING HERE, STARTING NOW. Ms. Prince's effortless transitions from manic hilarity to heartbreaking vulnerability were startling and magnificent. She reflected on the different stages of her career: from one of her early New York appearances when she introduced the world to the iconic William Finn song "Holding To The Ground" from FALSETTOLAND, to her more recent scenery-chewing turns as a comic villain, with a medley of "Worst Pies In London" from SWEENEY TODD, "Poor Unfortunate Souls" from THE LITTLE MERMAID, and "Little Girls" from ANNIE.
Though she's known as a quirky leading lady from shows like BELLS ARE RINGING and THE KING AND I, some of the most surprising moments of the night were her turns in cozy, sensitive songs like "Autumn" and "I Think It's Going To Rain Today," her soprano floating like a feather in the breeze, wrapping the audience in luxurious warmth.
She closed out the set with a couple of rousing torch songs: the late, great Jerry Herman's "If He Walked Into My Life" and Kander and Ebb's "The World Goes Round." After the audience leapt to its feet for an immediate standing ovation, Prince returned to the stage to dazzle us with the Mary Rodgers / Stephen Sondheim comedic tour-de-force "The Boy From..." which she delivered with sublime stillness, underscoring the hysterical tongue-twisters. Finally, she left us with the simple, sincere "Bless Your Heart." Indeed, our hearts had been blessed by Ms. Prince's presence.
Ms. Prince returned the next day to work with students from the University's Musical Theatre department, sharing her years of wisdom and experience with grace, humor, and generosity.
One of the hallmarks of the Broadway Tonight series is bringing in these master artists to engage with students, and Ms. Prince spoke of how teaching and coaching is one of her favorite parts of her career nowadays - sharing her wealth of knowledge with the next generation of theatre artists.
Photo Credit: Genevieve Rafter Keddy
ABOUT Faith Prince:
Faith Prince has been dazzling Broadway audiences since winning the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her performance as "Ms. Adelaide" in Guys and Dolls. As one of Broadway's best loved leading ladies, Faith most recently starred on Broadway in Disaster! The musical for which she received rave reviews. In a role she was born to play, she also starred as the scheming, irascible "Miss Hannigan" in the Broadway revival of Annie. In 2008, she was nominated for Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for A Catered Affair. Other Broadway credits include The Little Mermaid, Bells are Ringing (Tony, DD, OCC noms), Nick & Nora (OCC Award), Jerome Robbins' Broadway (Tony, DD noms), Little Me, The Dead, and Noises Off. She also starred in the world premiere of Terrence McNally's Unusual Acts of Devotion and in the national tour of the Broadway hit Billy Elliott. Chicago audiences had the opportunity to see Faith on stage in the iconic role of "Brenda" in the new musical version of the hit movie First Wives Club.
ABOUT BROADWAY TONIGHT:
Broadway Tonight's mission is to enlighten and enrich both students and the community by integrating student arts programming with professional artists to create exceptional cultural and educational offerings. Broadway Tonight is known for bringing high profile talent to the Oklahoma City metro to perform and work with music and dance students.