The Encore Musical Theatre Company has never looked as spiffed-up as it did last night at the spectacular fundraiser featuring Jeremy Jordan. In all honesty, I can not start this review without stating the deep pride I feel for Encore’s Founders, Board of Directors, Employees, Staff, and Volunteers. What occurred last night was more than just your typical fund-raiser — it was an earthquake shaking the theatre from one phase to the next — and it is well-deserved.
Jeremy performed two concerts, one at 6, and one at 8. I attended the latter. The event started with a welcome from the company’s Board President Jamie Mistry and Development Director Chuck Colby, and then co-founder Dan Cooney performed two wonderful warm-up numbers, featuring a particularly exquisite “The Mason” from Working.
Then Dan and Jeremy fought over the mic:
Ha! Just Kidding! There was no fighting involved…
What followed was 70 minutes of exquisite vocal work by one of Broadway’s most charming young actors — and he delivered musically, interpersonally, and professionally. Afterwards The Encore presented him with what I thought was a diamond of a thank-you present: a Detroit-made-and-designed watch from Shinola.
His performance-set highlighted his most well-known work: opening with West Side Story’s “Something’s Coming”, he followed with songs from The Last 5 Years (“Movin’ Too Fast” and “If I Didn’t Believe in You”), Smash (“Broadway Here I Come”), Bonnie & Clyde (“Bonnie”), and Newsies (“Santa Fe”). Interspersed were three of his own songs, for which he accompanied himself on guitar, a fine jazzy interpretation of “Losing My Mind” from Follies, and a lovely mash-up of The Wizard of Oz/The Wiz’s “Over the Rainbow”/’Home”.
Tyler Driskill provided remarkable piano accompaniment. Bravo!
I have seen Jeremy appear onstage in Newsies and Bonnie & Clyde, but nothing prepared me for the vocal finesse and range he displayed in this intimate concert setting — he’s earned accolades from coast to coast, and for his concert at 54 Below in NYC. What the audiences had was the rare opportunity to see one of the hottest rising stars on stage and screen in an intimate 100-seat environment where his charisma simply overwhelmed. I mean, honestly, I sat 11 feet away from him during the concert and the audience got to talk to him after the show — something even New Yorkers will never have the chance to do.
Oh, Fellow Directors: there is nothing like the thrill of hearing Jeremy Jordan announce the next show you are directing from the stage. Thank you for that soft introduction of Bonnie & Clyde to kick off Encore’s new season, Jeremy!
But this is a night where not only Jeremy shined brightly – but so did the entire Encore family — people felt welcomed, a part of something very very special, and something that ranks up there among the once-in-a-lifetime type things you are bound to experience — right here at home in our backyard.
A champagne toast followed the concert (juice for the underage set), and it was a well-deserved toast indeed. Kudos to your work last night. Kudos to this special evening. And Kudos to the coming season for a little theatre that is shining brightly in the world of musical theater.
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