Emily Walton: Emily Walton

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Emily Walton

I Really Hope You All Think This Is Funny

The Green Room 42, NYC, February 6, 2022

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Emily Walton

The explosive Emily Walton, currently appearing in Broadway’s smash hit Come From Away, is a dynamic young singer/songwriter/satirist/comic/pianist who in the first few minutes of her show at The Green Room 42 played the piano as she belted out the title tune of the show, “I Really Hope You All Think This Is Funny.” This she did while showing off her powerful soprano, her happily vulgar sense of humor, and donning a pair of Groucho glasses, debating whether or not she should keep them on for the entire show (she didn’t). Her second number proudly announced she wanted to be in an “Open Relationship,” and she encouraged those in the audience to sing along— except for her parents! Dad (and Broadway veteran) Bob Walton was sitting at a ringside table beaming; Uncle and co-star Jim was at an adjoining table.

Walton’s material is certainly contemporary and often political in the most general (and also the most specific) sense. Even her song “My Boyfriend Is a Protestor” combines music that harks back to the ’60s folk songs with very contemporary references. Even Father Christmas gets a contrary view in “Santa (the Nicest Guy)” (co-written with Lauren Marcus); he’s viewed as a suspiciously friendly guy whose interests in children may not be so innocent. Her final number was “Dear Mr.

Legislator,” with the plea to “keep your laws off my body.” All of these pieces were laden with humor and wit to keep them from coming off as pure agitprop.

Most of the material mentioned here had music and lyrics by the star. However, a few delightful numbers came from other sources. Perhaps the most sentimental was the one written for her when she was a teen by her dad, a romantic ode entitled “My True Love,” directed toward the bizarre comic Carrot Top. There was also another eccentric love song, “I Like You” by veteran actor Alan Arkin, and “That Funny Feeling,” a pop, culturally pointed ballad by YouTube star Bo Burnham.

With all this delight, what could go wrong? Well, Walton is just a bit too much—a bit too eager to please, a bit too energetic, a bit too enthusiastic, a bit too tending to swallow the microphone—something totally unnecessary with her vocal power and flexible soprano. She can do it all very well; now, she just needs to treat it all a little lighter to keep from exhausting her audience instead of thrilling them.

The very full stage was populated by music director Eric Fotre Leach, guitarist Adam Stoler, bassist Mac Calkin, drummer Jed Feder, and backup singers Lauren Marcus and Chiara Trentalange. All contributed to the joyful playfulness of the evening, going so far as to don Santa Claus hats at appropriate moments, and just sending out a vibe that they were very happy to be there. If Walton had only added a director to this mix, her show might have jumped up another level, as enjoyable as it already was.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."