Christine Ebersole In Concert – Scottsdale Center

Theater Review – March 18, 2018


Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ

Talented Broadway diva Christine Ebersole had a harrowing trip from her New York City home to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts to appear in the popular Broadway at Scottsdale Center series.  Ebersole was a replacement for Laura Benanti who was already substituting for Kristin Chenoweth.  After a rousing opening song from Ebersole’s Broadway “42nd Street” triumph, we heard about her trip here.

She arrived with host and pianist Seth Rudetsky at 5:30 a.m. to depart Kennedy airport at 7:30 for Phoenix.  After initial delays that included an ill-fated runway excursion and abrupt gate return, it was announced that the plane could not fly due an errant door that escaped a repair attempt.  After changing planes and terminals, the pair finally departed arriving in Phoenix with just enough time for sound checks before the local performance.

They wondered how they would ever perform but they rose brilliantly to the occasion as Ebersole told fascinating insider stories about her many hit Broadway shows including an “Oklahoma” revival, “Camelot” with Richard Burton, “42nd Street,” and her Tony Award-winning dual role in “Grey Gardens” as Edith Bouvier Beale and Little Edie Beale.  In between the often catty but insightful tales, she sang several musical theater classics including at least one song from each of her hit shows.

Her rich sense of humor, her fascinating Broadway stories, and tales of her unsuccessful Hollywood movie and television career attempt, combined with lovely, beautifully phrased song renditions.  Everything about the performance belied a 65-year-old performer who looks ravishing and sounds like she did when she arrived in New York.  I am lucky to have experienced most of her stellar Broadway appearances.  Although picking local performance highlights is impossible, the most exciting vocal moments came during the two diverse songs she sang from “Grey Gardens.”

Host Rudetsky did his usual wonderful piano backup but he seemed more plagued by the awful trip west and didn’t deliver as many of his bitingly bitchy comments about contemporary musical theater and its performers.

So far the series has featured wonderful performances from Kelli O’Hara and Megan Hilty prior to Ebersole with Vanessa Williams completing the season on April 7.  Ebersole’s combination of richly revealing song renditions and Broadway stories proved another fine entry in this most welcome series.

Grade: A