Vanessa Williams – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Theater Review – April 8, 2018

BROADWAY’S VANESSA WILLIAMS SINGS WELL BUT TELLS SOME INTERESTING MUSICAL THEATER STORIES

VANESSA WILLIAMS
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

You got a lot of talent when you attended Vanessa Williams’ solo concert at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.  You get an experienced and sultry singer who has perfected her song interpretations.  She augments her vocal brilliance with fascinating and revealing stories about the challenges she’s had as a Black performer turning her career into a stellar achievement.

She also referenced how much she learned about song styling from the great Barbara Cook who passed away last October after 83 years of using her stunning vocal skills to turn each of her songs into a unique story.

William’s has had extensive Broadway, television, and beauty pageant experiences that allow her to tell some daunting tales of discrimination, bias, and prejudice that she dealt with directly and honestly during her career growth that may soon yield another hit television series.  Williams tells it like what it was and is to become a star.  Although she’s endured a lot, she doesn’t complain and says she did what she had to do to become the star we know today.

Between beautifully sung songs including most of her pop hits like “Stormy Weather” and “The Colors of the Wind” along with “Show Boat’s” “Bill” and including the challenging Stephen Sondheim hits from the “Into the Woods” revival she starred in, the evening’s highlight was a haunting “Losing My Mind” from “Follies” that she sang in a recent Broadway Sondheim revue.  Another highlight was “On the Other Side of the Tracks” from “Little Me.”  Williams also spoke about Chita Rivera’s generosity when Williams took over Rivera’s lead role in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” on Broadway.

It was quite an evening and a rich ending to a triumphant Broadway series that featured four contemporary musical theater greats – Kelli O’Hara, Megan Hilty, Christine Ebersole, and Williams – along with host and pianist Seth Rudetsky who brings his brilliant musical theater knowledge that adds context to these shows and supports his pointed and insightful questions that launch the stars into many interesting stories of backstage shenanigans that make the musical theater so enticing.

There’s a promise of another series next season but none of the four stars have yet been announced.  All will be accompanied by Rudetsky.

Grade: A

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