Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Kult of Kristen (Television Review: Kristen Chenoweth, "The Dames Of Broadway...All Of 'Em," PBS

Somebody somewhere, there's a place called Kristen, and it is magical, and musical, and magnificent. Tonight was the PBS broadcast of her show, "The Dames Of Broadway...All Of 'Em," which is part of the Lincoln Center American Songbook Series, which then was recorded live for PBS' Live From Lincoln Cenetr telecasts. Of course during that hour, time stood still for me. All the phones went off, the computer was shut down, and for sixty minutes, it was just me and Kristin. And let me tell you, I had the time of my life. Chenoweth presents a collection of songs from Broadway musicals, some from roles she played, and some from roles that has so far eluded her. We all know she can sing, and her supple soprano is featured here in all its glory. She opens the show with Frank Loesser's "Somebody Somewhere," and never gets off from that high. Among my favorite numbers were "Mr Snow," from Carousel and "100 Easy Ways To Lose A Man,' where in both songs she not only sings the songs but she sings them in context of the shows, paying attention to each nuance of the lyric. It really is the epitome of singing/acting the songs. She tells a funny story of how she played the role of Tuptim from "The King & I" and has the cast call her "Kristen Chen." Then she slays "My Lord And Master." I really cannot discern a misstep from the show, except maybe the non-broadcast of "Eidelwess" and "Dance:10, Looks:3" from the television broadcast (The latter song may have been cut for its racy lyrics) The last number on television is her touching lyrical version of "My Funny Valentine," which I think is one of the best versions of that song. While I totally loved this show, I do wonder how it plays in middle America. Most of the songs may be too esoteric for general audiences. But then again, if you are a PBS watcher, then this show was probably made for you. And me. 

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