Jennifer Tepper is the Creative and Programming Director at Feinstein’s/54 Below. This means that she coordinates all of the shows that go on at Broadway’s supper club. She is also a renowned theater historian. She has written three books (so far) in The Untold Stories of Broadway series. In each of these books, Jennifer collects stories from current and former Broadway theaters.
When visiting NYC from California in 2009, I begged my mom go see 9 to 5 on Broadway for my 17th birthday. I had heard Stephanie J. Block sing “Get Out and Stay Out” on the recording, and I knew that I had to see and hear her perform that song live. I knew that Stephanie had played Elphaba in Wicked on tour and on Broadway, and I was in awe of her talent. Of course, I was blown away by her performance as Judy Bernly in 9 to 5. 8 years after seeing the show, I listen to that cast album all the time. Continue reading
I grew up listening to Laura Michelle Kelly on cast recordings. I loved the recording of her as Hodel on the 2004 cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof. Of course, I also loved her on the London cast recording of Mary Poppins as the title character.
When I first saw her in Finding Neverland at the American Repertory Theater (ART), I was thrilled at the opportunity to see her perform live. Her performance as Sylvia Llewlyn Davies mesmerized me. She brought such warmth and strength to the role. I ended up seeing the show *many* more times both at the ART and on Broadway.
Kara Lindsay made her Broadway debut in Disney’s Newsies in 2011. While the show is based on the 1992 film, Kara played Katherine Plummer, a character original to the stage version of the show. Luckily, Kara’s performance was preserved on film, and you can buy it digitally on iTunes or Amazon. Kara’s portrayal of Katherine in Newsies is full of pluck, charm, and energy. Her performance of “Watch What Happens” is the highlight of the show.
I’ve been a huge fan of Sara Bareilles’ music since the first time I heard “Love Song” on the radio. When I heard that she was writing a musical, I knew that I had to see it. The music Sara writes has a beautiful storytelling quality that I knew would lend itself well to musical theater.
When I saw Waitress at the ART in Cambridge, the show’s score entranced me. It sounded just like the Sara Bareilles music that I loved so much. The music that Sara wrote for Waitress ranges from upbeat and funny to heartbreaking and poignant. She has a unique ability to write music that can move anyone who hears it.
I first fell in love with Mandy Gonzalez’s voice in high school as I listened to her as Nina on the cast recording of In the Heights over and over again. Nearly 10 years later, I still can’t listen to Mandy sing “Everything I Know” on the cast album without crying. That is a testament to the pure power of her voice.
Before Mandy was in In the Heights, she made her Broadway debut in one of my favorite musicals: Aida. She understudied the role of the Egyptian princess, Amneris, and eventually took over the role.
When I realized that Eva Noblezada is only 21 years old, my jaw dropped. Eva, who plays 17 year old Kim in Miss Saigon, is remarkably classy and articulate. It doesn’t hurt that she has a hint of a British accent after living in London for three years.
I saw Eva’s performance in Miss Saigon, and she blew me away. She commits 100% to every single one of her scenes. She sings an incredibly difficult score beautifully and breaks the audience’s heart as she delves into the pain and trauma that Kim faces.