54 Sings Alanis Morissette
Feinstein’s 54 Below
April 24, 2019 – 9:30pm
Feinstein’s 54/Below has been honoring the Great American Songbook-the work of the Gershwin Brothers and other staples of the American musical landscape. And, Alanis Morissette has been a powerful presence in the music scene since the 1990’s. As the producers and directors of the evening- Robert Schneider and Benjamin Nissen said: In this era of the “Me Too” movement- “it seems only fitting that an important artist like Morissette be honored. Her work has left an indelible impression on an entire generation and I am so excited that a few artists from the brilliant Jagged Little Pill, (the Morissette musical headed towards Broadway this fall) and many other great Broadway shows, are coming together to honor her intelligence, humor, and musicianship at Feinstein’s/54 Below.”
The evening began organically- as the musicians took the stage-female guitar and bass players-Megan Talay and Sarah Favinger -drummer Aaron Drescher and pianist Luke Williams- we saw the stage being set for the performers to take off from. The set began with Amy Jo Jackson singing the (iconic) song Ironic. Joined by a group of ensemble singers and some of the other soloists for the night. Her full voiced rendering of the song and clear story telling served the cutting edge of Morissette’s writing and set the tone for the musical narratives to follow.
Lianah Sta. Ana from Miss Saigon sang Unprodigal Daughter. She was supported by two singers and after some seeming adjustment of sound levels her beautiful voice came through clearly and conveyed the plea in Morissette’s text: this is my town-this is my voice- this is my taste of what you’ve no part of. Nathan Salstone sang the lively One Hand in My Pocket with all of the energy and playfulness in the song- he pulled out a harmonica-played the piano and bounced to the energy of the band which sounded fantastic. Kristy Cates talked about Morissette giving women the right to be “angry” way before the Me Too Movement and gave voice to the complex, angry and ambivalent feelings in the text of Hands Clean. Asher Dubin sang Not The Doctor and portrayed a powerful upper range. Jenna Najjar and Joe Veale sang All I Really Want eliciting a great response from the audience. Michael Haynie showed off a powerful upper range in Your House. Nathan Salstone and Molly Griggs enjoyed a great connection with one another in So Pure. Jennifer Di Noia sang This Grudge and I understood words I never did before- she has a unique. rich voice and connected to the audience completely. Donna Vivino sang Forgiven with a strong rock sound and lovely presence- the audience loved her.
One of the strongest performances of the evening was Jessica Hendy’s interpretation of Uninvited. She commanded the stage and her lyric and powerful voice rocked the house. The band supported her voice perfectly and the performance obtained another worldly quality. I spoke with Hendly after the performance and she said that she” loves singing at Feinstein’s and that the words of Morissette are poetry that she writes from a really vulnerable place.”
Brian Charles Rooney had a comfortable presence and used a light approach and his beautiful falsetto to Head Over Feet. Sarah Lynn Marion took the stage and delivered Everything/Thank You with a powerful presence and rich voice. LaDonna Burns had a vulnerability and power in her interpretation of Mary Jane. Diana Huey’s delivery of You Oughta Know was another highlight of the evening. Huey’s voice is far bigger than her diminutive frame. She absolutely tore the room apart with her interpretation. She connected to the band which supported her beautifully as well as the audience.The final song of the evening was You Learn which was sung by the ensemble, The message of the song was a great way to end the evening: “You live you learn, you love you learn/You cry you learn, you lose you learn/You bleed you learn, you scream you learn.” The evening was a great tribute to the work of Morissette – beautifully delivered by the artists who took stage that night.