Heather Villaescusa: The Happiness Project (A 10-Week Guide)

Heather Villaescusa

The Happiness Project (A 10-Week Guide)

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, March 3, 2018

Reviewed by Randolph B. Eigenbrode for Cabaret Scenes

Heather Villaescusa
Photo: Maryann Lopinto

The stress! The agony! The excitement! Apparently competing in (and winning) Mama’s Next BIG Act!, as we learn from Heather Villaescusa, brings on quite the whirlwind of emotions. And in this showing, part of her prize winnings, Villaescusa wears these emotions on her sleeve—sometimes to her detriment. But, for this return to the cabaret stage, Mama’s reigning Act proves why she won in the first place: a lively disposition filled with a heap of happy.

Indeed, it all started last summer when, almost by fluke, she competed in Don’t Tell Mama’s venerable contest. In relaying the stories of her time as contestant, a few things become apparent. First, Villaescusa has an infectious charm that puts over comedy with surprising ease. “Velociraptor” (Joe Iconis), a bizarre piece to say the least, got the earnest and wide-eyed treatment which expertly underplays the song’s circumstances—an eternally-single carnivorous dinosaur who wants to be like all the other girls and find true love—much to comic aplomb.

online pharmacy with best prices today in the USA

(Her dinosaur-like sound effects were a delight.) Second, she is a wife and mother. This obviously becomes fodder for her piece, but it does take one by surprise. With her stylish dirty-blonde ringlets and svelte figure, combined with a youthfully effervescent air, Villaescusa doesn’t outright elicit any clichéd maternal archetypes. Perhaps this is why a selection like “Mom-ism,” a humorous lyriced version (by Anita Renfroe and Villaescusa) of motherly chestnuts set to Rossini’s William Tell Overture, packs an even more endearing punch.

Most surprising of all is Villaescusa’s difficulty with lyrics. Opening with a text-heavy “Sing Happy” (John Kander/Fred Ebb), she went blank in the third verse, coming surprisingly alive as she searched for the right words. This initially added to her charm, and re-centered her to a more honest (and less slick) place, but this difficulty would come back to haunt her numerous times.

buy amitriptyline online http://healthdirectionsinc.com/images/jpg/amitriptyline.html no prescription pharmacy

She owns it, admitting that it was a hurdle for her in the competition as well, but it sometimes establishes a chasm between her and the audience and it certainly loses the drive that the show and selection have built.

With that being said, it does raise the question as to why director Lennie Watts allowed so many text-heavy pieces. There were the aforementioned “Sing Happy” and “Mom-ism” as well as “Hero Is My Middle Name” (Cyndi Lauper/Rob Hyman), an eight-song Pat Benatar medley, and Sondheim’s “The Little Things You Do Together”(!!)—each more garrulous than the last. Particularly with Villaescusa’s nerves, fewer long-winded choices would have better showcased her. On the flip side, a few of the selections got the Watts and (the always fabulous MD) Steven Ray Watkins treatment: “Shaking the Blues Away” (Irving Berlin) was mashed-up with Taylor Swift’s hit “Shake it Off” (Swift/Shellback/Max Martin) and a bossa nova “Sweet Child o’ Mine” (Axl Rose/Slash/Izzy Stradlin) got paired with “You Are My Sunshine” (Jimmie Davis/Charles Mitchell). These unexpected combinations allow Villaescusa to flaunt her quirky charm as well as show off that pleasant voice.

Ultimately, it’s her talent and dynamic that endears you to Villaescusa.

online pharmacy with best prices today in the USA
buy furosemide online http://healthdirectionsinc.com/images/jpg/furosemide.html no prescription pharmacy

This was not the strongest of showings, but with time (and extra homework on her lyrics), this happy girl shows promise. 

Randolph B. Eigenbrode

Randolph is the newest addition to the writing staff at Cabaret Scenes. He is a cabaret teacher, previously teaching with legend Erv Raible, and his students have gone on to success in the field with sold-out shows and many awards. He is also a director and that, combined with a knowledge of the art form and techniques that cabaret performing encompasses, makes him love reviewing NYC’s cabaret scene. When not catching the Big Apple’s crazy talent, Randolph loves 1970s variety shows, mall Chinese food, Meryl Streep films and a good cold glass of pinot grigio.