Photo Credit: Sue Matsuki

Bringing her real-life job and experience as a Psychiatrist to the stage, SALLIE JO HADLEY’s new show was a sweet, funny and poignant look into what she called “The Stages of Love” – Excitement/Pursuing, Commitment /Marriage, Disillusionment and True Lasting Love. (October/Don’t Tell Mama)

Directed beautifully by Peter Napolitano, this was a well-constructed story line that worked beautifully in Sallie Jo’s real, honest energy…she is SO likeable on stage and I kept feeling myself smiling throughout the show.

Sallie Jo was also one of Barry Levitt’s students who, since Barry’s passing, had not had the motivation or desire to sing, as many of us who loved Barry understood. Her grief kept her from moving forward and then…who do you use? How do you put a new show together? Well, enter the wonderful Matthew Martin Ward! I think this team of Matthew and Peter embraced Sallie Jo and guided her to her best self and work with the love and compassion she needed to get back on stage. This made me SO happy! Seeing someone find music again and get back on stage is a wonderful thing. As we all know…music is healing. Barry would have been so proud of Sallie Jo.

Sallie Jo is a delightful singer and persona on stage. I bought want she was selling…because, her takes on each song in each stage was colored with the knowing about these things first hand, from hearing about all these stages of love from her clients and, of course, her own personal experiences I’m sure. The songs were appropriate to each stage…”The Glory of Love”; “The Boy Next Door”; “Wedding Bell Blues”; “Old Fashioned Wedding”; “I Wish I Were in Love Again” and “Simple Little Things” to name a few.

She was a little bit nervous at the top of the show but that comes with needing to perform more and I saw her the first night. She should just breath more and remind herself that singing is her joy and then attack the stage. Getting her patter more organic and conversational would be my only constructive criticism but again, when this show “gets some legs” I think it will be even that much better. All she needs is a few more opportunities to perform it. I hope she brings it back.

NOTES:  Using Sallie Jo’s show as a good example of both of these things…

  1. There is something to be said about a show of familiar tunes…every song choice was a gem! When constructing a show, yes, original music is GREAT but a whole show of original music, especially if the writers are unknown, can be a hard sell to an audience if you are not up to the task. It’s different if you are presenting a specific writer because we know what to expect and come in with the intention of listening “harder” to receive this new material. However, when doing a regular show and interjecting new material…an audience welcomes and almost needs to hear something familiar here and there as a “palette cleanser”…like a sorbet in a meal, so that we can go on to listening more carefully to tunes we may not know as well. I loved that I knew every single tune in this show. However, like I said, it’s worth noting for singers who do not have a lot of shows or a large following yet, but it is certainly not a “rule” and many are able to do this beautifully.

Sallie Jo’s use of very familiar tunes was just a breath of fresh air to me. She also did as many up tempos as ballads which kept the show flowing with a really nice  balance of highs and lows and different feels and colors.

  1. Her show was short and sweet and left we wanting more! THIS is where you want to leave your audience. If your audience is looking at their watches or wiggling in their seats…it’s your job to notice this and your team’s responsibility to keep you “on script”. ALWAYS leave them wanting more!

I saw a show recently that was 94 minutes long with each patter run being 6-14 minutes long between every single song. 70% of the show were tunes that I did not know! This is a person I would never go back to see again.

When creating a show…be smart! Hire and then listen to your team, you pay them for their sage advice. This person that I am writing about above did not have a team so, perhaps they need to get one and soon!

This show also was pretty much the same show as their last show. If you’re promoting a show as “new”…it must be new…new songs, new concept…NOT just a new show name.