Jackie Evancho: The Debut

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Jackie Evancho

The Debut

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, April 23, 2019

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Jackie Evancho

Jackie Evancho is a stunningly polished performer who has created an interesting niche for herself at the intersection of Broadway and pop music. By using the full extent of her strong range and consistently hitting her high notes, she consistently impressed her audience of adoring fans song after song. Without doubt, she knows her strengths and played to them by combining well-rehearsed pop songs with an intriguing variety of inspirational Broadway numbers. Most interesting were some of the subtle choices that she made during the show, such as singing the best Phantom parts in her The Phantom of the Opera medley. For a woman in a white power suit (for most of the show), that was a power move.

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Evancho made it a point to include a lot of current Broadway material along with classics—for example, featuring songs from both Anastasia and West Side Story. If I were to pick a single best performance of the evening, it’d have to be one of the classics and the choice would be between “The Impossible Dream” (Mitch Leigh/Joe Darion from Man of La Mancha) and “Somewhere” (Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim from the aforementioned West Side Story). When she sang “some day a time for us” from the latter, it was as if she had spoken to the whole crowd and told them that their 54 Below rendezvous was as secretive as Tony and Maria’s.

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But, referring to lofty dreams, the lyric, “to run where the brave dare not go” from “The Impossible Dream” spoke more believably to Evancho’s underlying drive.

She didn’t just sing the male parts. She also performed the showstopping number from Hamilton, “Burn” (Lin-Manuel Miranda), where the character Eliza destroys her husband’s letters. Evancho’s interpretation of “You built me palaces out of paragraphs/You built cathedrals” still haunts me.

Evancho could have delved deeper into her life or career; she sometimes just introduced the songs, rarely breaking stride for more than a brief respite. However, her fans didn’t seem to mind her skipping the details; they appeared constantly enthralled. Evancho truly knew her audience and catered to them. Music director/pianist Jorn Swart and his band—Horace Bray (guitar), Leon Boykins (bass), and Devin Collins (drums)—were practically mute, preferring that their instruments do the talking.

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see StruckChris.com