Andy Mientus: Sings Joni Mitchell’s Ladies of the Canyon

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Andy Mientus

Sings Joni Mitchell’s Ladies of the Canyon

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, September 28, 2019

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

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In New York cabaret, you never know what to expect. In a show that included an onstage costume change that wasn’t sultry but still somehow suggestive, it’s strange to think that possibly the most unique moment was provided by a performer playing a harp.
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At some point cabaret shows seem to become a case of been there, seen that, but Andy Mientus did right by his guest actresses while paying homage to the talented Joni Mitchell, who, among others, defined an era of skepticism combined with free spirits. Mientus dressed almost as a shaman for the first half of the show, or “Side A” of the Ladies of the Canyon record, exemplifying the inner peace he exuded and the anti-materialistic nature of this iconic record by Mitchell, which included the indelible “Big Yellow Taxi” and the forever prescient line, “You paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Admittedly, the show was best suited for an audience that adores Mitchell more than one that simply adores Mientus. He’s a talented singer, but there are always a few songs that stand out on a recording along with those that simply blend in before sinking into potential oblivion. Mientus, despite his love for the “political messaging” of Mitchell’s Ladies of the Canyon, added a few good songs with other themes at the end. These included the unforgettable “Both Sides Now” and “Cactus Tree,” which featured one of the must-see moments of the night. On “Cactus Tree,” Lexie Lowell brought out her harp, taking the stage in a charming, quirky sort of way, before settling in with her astounding voice and the sound, ephemeral and ethereal as all time, of the harp.

The audience was treated to another surprise when Treshelle Edmond used ASL (American Sign Language) to translate “Willy” while it was sung by Mientus. Her acting communicated the emotion of the song wonderfully; the way that she turned, emphasized the lines, and she portrayed emotions through her expressive eyes.
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Mientus earns some serious points for identifying and seeking out performers who deserve a chance to showcase their skills.

His own moments filled most of the show, and any time he opened his mouth, beautiful notes soared out. It was like letting a music box go after winding it up. He brought emotion and vision to the music, which helped translate the imagery he saw in the words, especially on the unforgettable chorus of “I’ve looked at life from both sides now/From give and take and still somehow/It’s love’s illusions I recall/I really don’t know love at all,” from “Both Sides Now.” Others joined him on stage, as well. Hailey Kilgore and Nikki M. James performed especially well. In particular, I liked Kilgore’s voice and, if forced to choose, would say that she delivered the cleanest vocals of the night. Kathryn Gallagher, Jennifer Reed, and Krista Pioppi also performed.

MD and pianist was the talented Benjamin Rauhala, whose strong performances continue to aid the artists he works with.

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