Y'all Need to See: Linda Sue Moshier's Simply Starstruck
You guys, I’m starting a new series, called Y’all Need To See. The world currently needs good news almost as bad as it needs oxygen, so Imma skip the negative reviews and only bother with the good ones. After all, modern audiences don’t really need to be warned off — they don’t go to shit anyhow, me included. But maybe we can find pants and get out of the house to see the good stuff, if someone puts it under our collective nose. So, here then, is the first installment.
Y’ALL NEED TO SEE
LINDA SUE MOSHIER’S SIMPLY STARSTRUCK
Next on stage at The Cutting Room, this weekend, Sunday, April 14, 7:00pm
So, I saw this last night at the Bruno Walter Theater at Lincoln Center. Backed by a 5-piece band, Linda delivered a lovely homage to her idol and our collective national treasure, Barbara Streisand. (Let’s pretend the Michael Jackson thing didn’t happen; we’re losing too many idols for better reasons than some sentences comprised of really stupid words, and I just can’t with that.)
Linda’s program of Streisand tunes was designed to illuminate her journey, both as a fan and as an artist. It was at once charming idol-worship, and fine music-making:
Kevin B McGlynn, Director
Phil Hall - Music Director
Mark Cocheo - guitar
Aaron Heick - tenor sax, clarinet, oboe & flute
Ray Marchica - drums
Karl Spicer - bass
Linda, you see, absolutely sings her face off pretty much any day. So it was no surprise, but nevertheless a deep pleasure, to hear her so impeccably prepared and coached by pianist and Musical Director Phil Hall – she knocked me out. I don’t know the Streisand canon well enough to say if she was doing “Barbara’s Version” precisely, or how much “Linda’s Version” was present, but it was solid to her feet. She’s got an impressive array of hard technical effects on tap, but more than that, it’s so rare to hear someone lay out all those tricks in one serving. Reserving nothing, one after the other, she ticked off the boxes and never once put a foot wrong. Dynamic peaks and valleys, a panoramic emotional landscape, musically adventurous, all different sorts of vocal tones… and her intonation was perfect. At every dynamic, on every vowel. Per. Fect.
From a spirit of jealousy because this is the Achilles tendon of my singing, I’ll say this: Linda’s straight tone (which she employs liberally, but not excessively) is flawless. It has breath in it. This is a straight tone that travels, that rings in the room, full of color and overtone. It has a buoyancy that money can’t buy. Seriously, she currently has no face, because she sang it off. She could consider teaching voice - or coaching style, even. If more musical theater singers sang like that, fewer people would hate musical theater singers. (Sorry, y’all, nothing personal, but some of you need to ease way off on the yelling. There, I said it.)
Kevin B McGlynn’s writing and stage direction was cute, funny and likable by turns. Turns out they have a long history together, and it was clear he was fully invested in taking good care of her and showing her at her best. My only (tiny) quibble is that I’d have liked to hear more of Linda’s personality in the patter. She’s nothing if not canny, though, and not being an enthusiastic writer herself, she made the probably wise decision to leave the writing to the director. And while it was good, and it was, I hope as she reprises the set, she’ll begin to use McGlynn’s prose as a seed, and relax into her own storytelling voice.
The band, as expected, did excellent work on not much rehearsal. It was possibly helpful that Aaron and Ray have played with La Streisand herself, but it’s also true that NYC singers are spoiled. Our instrumentalists are super slick - in our city, fantastic players are thick on the ground. If you didn’t know how little time they get with the tunes, you’d never know. It’s always a pleasure to watch their exploration and interaction, and this particular group was no exception.
So that’s that.
Y'all Need to See Simply Starstuck, true fact. Linda is next on stage at The Cutting Room (32nd street between Park & Madison), this weekend, Sunday, April 14. The set starts at 7:00pm and runs 70 minutes. The Cutting Room is a nice place, has good food (you can really have dinner) and a huge, comfortable holding bar. it’s a refreshing option in the landscape of cabaret joints. Definitely recommend.