January 27th, 2018
From her cleverly conceived post card (see above) to her smart songs choices, it was clear that we were in for a “strong woman show.” What it morphed into, however, was more a story of different kinds of woman finding their strength is different ways. The views of a Grandma, a prostitute, a working woman, a housewife, a mother and others were all clearly represented in this show.
With songs like: When I Was a Boy (Hall/Williams) to It Was Good Enough for Grandma (Arlen/Harburg) to Many a New Day (Rogers/Hammerstein), every song delivered was with a specific intent. Sometimes with a specific historic intent. I found the show, directed by Helen Baldassare, informative, entertaining and beautifully performed.
With stellar musical support (and arrangements) by Gregory Toroian and Tom Hubbard on Bass, the show was that much more delightful!
One of my favorite moments happened, after a brief story, when that world famous bass riff started….bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum…into what is one of the best opening lines of a song ever written…”Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition…” (Nine to Five – Dolly Parton).
This is Stearns’ first show in 4 years. It is nice to have her back on stage. It is nice to have her voice on stage…both vocally and politically. Speaking of which, she has a laid back, pleasant, easy listening singing voice but her real “voice” becomes loud, clear and strong on all her patter runs. Her lead-ins to her songs matter and make as much of a statement as the song does.
An example of this was when she spoke about “first” females, like Jane Goodall, leading to air captain Beverley Bass, who was the first female air pilot hired in 1976 by American Airlines. Stearns then sang Me and the Sky (Sankoff/Hein from “Come Fly Away”) a show based on Bass’s life. Ending with Back to Before (Flaherty/Ahrens) into I Am Woman (Reddy) were brilliant choices and brought the show full circle.
Offering a few constructive observations, her version of Craig Carneilia’s brilliant, Just a Housewife can go a little further both in emotional connection and getting the lyrics more into her body.
Also, when Stearns talked about how she has been an advocate and attorney for reproductive rights her whole life into Our Story Goes On (Maltby/Shire), it seemed a strange lead-in to this song which is about generation after generation giving birth and carrying on the legacy. “And all these things I feel and more, my mother’s mother felt and her’s before…my child is next in a line that’s never ending…” While I clearly got that her intent was that it is about a woman’s right to choose this experience (or not), this song celebrates life so this set up was a bit convoluted to me.
Keep your eyes here on Cabaret Hotspot! for Ms. Stearns’ new dates.