Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Gostomski
Feinstein’s 54 Below
Aug. 3, 2019 7pm
Sierra Boggess’s show at Feinstein’s was a wonderful evening which showed many aspects of the singer’s personality and talent. She was supported for the evening by her pianist and musical director Brian Hertz, and her sister, Summer Boggess – off from a night of playing in the pit in Mean Girls – assisted on the cello. From the beginning of the evening it was clear that Boggess has a great connection to her audience and is at ease on the stage and with the material she picked from her career and the Broadway Songbook. Her personal philosophy, that we are “enough just as we are” and her belief in the healing power of music was a through-line for the evening.
She began her set with Home from Phantom. She was already at home onstage at Feinstein’s, and this song gave the audience a chance to experience the great range of her voice. Throughout the evening she moved with remarkable ease between the different registers of her voice. Boggess is not your standard diva. Down to earth and funny, she sang her next piece Think of Me also from Phantom in English, French and as Brittany Spears. She followed this with On the Steps of the Palace from Into The Woods (Stephen Sondheim). Boggess found a good blend between singing and speech and her head and chest voice portraying Cinderella. In her next piece Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid (her Broadway debut) she deftly portrayed the longing in the song.
Boggess’ introductions to the songs were made in her own unique style. She introduced Unusual Way from Nine talking about love but not taking the topic and herself too seriously: “whatever-take what you need from it.” Her rendition of the song was beautiful, she stood front and center, perfectly still, finishing the song in her rich middle register. She introduced the Nature Medley describing her love of trees. She also quoted Ram Dass who talked about the different kinds of trees in the forest and rather than judge their various states: “just allow it.” She sang with clear diction and to the whole house. Her sister Summer had a beautiful solo on the cello and Boggess lovingly gave her focus.
Boggess also paid tribute to one of her performing idols Barbra (Streisand) who happened to be singing that night at Madison Square Garden. Boggess was honored that we had come to see her instead of Babs, but she understood if any of us wanted to leave early to see her show which started at 8:00. “Just leave now!” she said. She honored her with a spot on rendition of Barbra singing One Kiss (Hammerstein, Romberg). Later, she engaged the audience in a sing a long with I Could Have Danced All Night (Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Lowe) from My Fair Lady which the audience enjoyed. Her rendition of Feed The Birds from Mary Poppins (Richard and Robert Sherman) was touching and intimate.
Boggess clearly has a love of her family and told a story about the love letters her grand parents wrote one another while her grandfather was away at war. She also projected them on screens as she read with a smile a very personal passage her grandmother intended only for her beloved. This led into How Could I Ever Know from Secret Garden (Marsha Norman, Lucy Simon) which displayed more colors in her voice and her effortless high soprano.
She set up her next song, If They Could See Me Now (Dorothy Fields, Cy Coleman) with a hilarious story about being invited to sing for the Queen of England at Andrew Loyd Webber’s estate. Boggess is an excellent story teller and her natural enthusiasm worked well in the piece. Her next song, Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again from Phantom (Charles Hart-Richard Stilgoe, Andrew Loyd Weber) was dedicated to Boggess’s mentor and friend Hal Prince. Accompanied just by her pianist, Boggess sang with tears in her eyes as photos of Prince were displayed on the monitors flanking the stage. This was one of the most moving moments of the evening and it was vocally stunning. As Boggess sang full out, she obtained a purity and power that gave chills.
Her closing song No One Is Alone (Stephen Sondheim) was interrupted by an audience member’s cellphone going off. Boggess said with her New York accent “Yello?-“Oh it’s Barbra!-How rude of her to call now.” Boggess handled the moment perfectly. It was a light hearted ending to an evening that ran a wide range of emotions but perfectly in keeping with Boggess’s unpretentious, humorous approach to her serious talent.