On Friday, September 5, 2014, I saw a legend in the making at 54 Below in NYC and that soon to be legend was the one and only Catherine LeFrere, who made her concert debut with Confessions of a Young Character Actress. When a singer opens her show with Judy Garland's "Come Rain or Shine" and you immediately think this is Judy's long lost daughter then you know they have something special. What Catherine has is great voice complimented by a booming stage presence.
From the moment the show started, Catherine engulfed the audience because she made us feel at ease with her talented voice and and self depreciating humor. She made us laugh right from the get-go and that alone enables the audience to sit back and relax.
Throughout the night, Catherine took us on her journey of being a character actress from playing "Reno Sweeney" in Anything Goes to her most recent triumph as "Dorothy Brock" in The Gateway Playhouse's production of 42nd Street (directed by three-time Tony nominee Randy Skinner). Some of my favorite moments from the show (yes I am forcing myself to choose a few) were hearing Catherine sing Ella Fitzgerald's versioin of "I'm Old Fashioned," a perfect way set up the evening. Almost every lyric in that song describes a part of Catherine to a tee. "Be Italian" from Nine was also at the top of my list. I loved how Catherine, not only sang this song with an Italian accent, but lead into this song by telling the audience how she gets described as ethnically ambigous and then started singing. Genius. I also adored her rendition of Nancy Wilson/Marilyn Mae's "Guess Who I Saw Today," a powerfully heartbreaking song about a wife who sees her husband out with another woman and then confronts him about it. Catherine really conveyed the emotion of this song. Another great moment was getting to hear Catherine sing "Quarter to Nine" from 42nd Street as "Dorothy Brock."
Without a doubt, the stand-out number of the evening was Meghan Trainor's "All About The Base." This was the part of the evening where Catherine really triumphed! She had the whole audience in the palm of her hand, singing along with her, while she danced about the stage. You could see all eyes were fixed on Catherine. That is a testament to Catherine's ability to draw her audience in even more so than she already had.
No solo concert is complete without some people helping you behind the scenes. Catherine had quite a team assembled. Her show was directed by Will Nunziata who has directed concerts for such Tony Award winners as Lillias White and Cady Huffman. Will has a great eye for excellence, so it's no doubt why these two teamed up together. Will really knows how to weave a story together using the music as the connectors. In addition to Will, Catherine brought in some of the best musicians out there...from her Musical Director Brian Nash (who works with the amazing Natalie Douglas and Natalie Joy Johnson) to Adam Neely on Bass and Jeremy Yaddaw on drums.
Catherine is really going places and I hope one place she goes is back to 54 Below to do this concert again! It was the first hour since Joan Rivers' passing that I didn't think about the fact that Joan is gone. Catherine had my full attention and that is one more reason I enjoyed Confessions of a Young Character Actress so much. And speaking of legends, Catherine paid homage to a musical theatre legened who was influential in Catherine's course as an actress, her idol Elaine Stritch. From quotes that Catherine has held onto to singing "You're Getting To Be a Habit With Me" from Elaine's Christmas album Stritch, Catherine chaneled Elaine's energy throughout the show.
When this show comes back around, I can't urge you enough to go see it.
That's Adam's Call and I Stand For Entertainment!