Reviewed by Guest Contributor: Thomas Mills
Photo Credit: unknown
Feinstein’s 54 Below
February 1 & 2, 2019 – 7PM
Alice Ripley approaches her cabaret shows with the same tenacity and intensity as she has approaches her roles on Broadway. For this performer the journey is just as important as the individual moments. And, in her cabaret show, no piece of music is chosen without knowing it needs to be there to tell the story. And, in “Ripley Prescription” she took us on a story of broken hearts.
This was not an evening of sadness and sorrow but a night of humor, thoughtful reflection and the feeling that, since these songs are so popular, they must appeal to many, so no matter how broken the heart: we are not alone. Ripley shared many very personal moments of herself, but you never felt uncomfortable, or that it was too personal or “TMI.” She told these stories to lead us to the next song gem, and gave us reasons for feeling empowered by heartbreak, no matter how deep. She was supported onstage, both with piano and vocals, by Music Director Brad Simmons. And as to the aforementioned gems, there were many.
Opening with a heartfelt rendition of “A Song For You” the classic Leon Russell tune, including a haunting jazz riff of the instrumental solo. She then moved to a trilogy of songs sung while accompanying herself, quite impressively, on the drums. Particular highlights for me were “Every time You Go Away” (Daryl Hall), and a haunting rendition of “Eleanor Rigby” (John Lennon, Paul McCarthy).
While the show was filled with reinterpreted pop standards from her youth, she didn’t leave her musical theatre fans in the dust. And, as an actress she brought so much of herself to each song. By the end of the show she offered a couple of songs that she had created on Broadway, but with a new edge to them. And, she presented a bravura, showstopping interpretation of “As If We Never Said Goodbye” (Andrew Lloyd Webber, Christopher Hampton, Don Black). Originally she starred as the young Betty in Sunset Boulevard, but maturity, and dare I say, age, has given her a gravitas with which she could easily tackle the role of Norma Desmond. In this reviewer’s opinion, she would make (will make) an unforgettable Norma. While I’m on the subject of unforgettable roles, Ripley shared a glimmer of her one-woman version of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe” and, like the play, she is both funny, scary and brilliant. Hopefully, her version of Virginia Wolf will be coming soon, to a theater near you. Meanwhile, if you find yourself in need of “Ripley’s Prescription” make your appointment today! You’ll be very glad you saw the doctor of broken hearts.