Victoria Elena: Confessions of a Professional Princess

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Victoria Elena

Confessions of a Professional Princess

The Green Room 42, NYC, March 5, 2024

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Victoria Elena
Photo: Kevin Alvey

In a show consisting of songs from Disney films and musicals sung by a lyric soprano (who also owns a party company that specializes in princess events) the chances were high that it would be precious and saccharine. That is, unless the star was Victoria Elena, a smart and witty performer who had a dash of tabasco in her patter to cut through the sugar content. She also brought along a few special guests to further enliven the material and to charm the audience. Yes, there was an abundance of charm throughout. When Elena assured the audience that she was “Practically Perfect” (George Stiles/Anthony Drewe from Mary Poppins), it was far from an idle boast.

Accompanied by music director/pianist Ben Weiss, she emphasized the more modern princesses; they were, in her mind, more independent and assertive than such classic examples as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Those princesses, as well as others, were celebrated in a lovely medley of their theme songs that gave Elena the chance to show off her impressive coloratura range. Among the ones she evoked with wit and intelligence were two women she quickly admitted she would never be allowed to play: Pocahontas with “Colors of the Wind” (Alan Menken/Stephen Schwartz) and Moana with “How Far I’ll Go” (Lin-Manuel Miranda). For something completely different, she paid respect to one of the Disney villainesses, Rapunzel’s Mother Gothel, with fine comic flair by singing “Mother Knows Best” (Menken/Glenn Slater from Tangled).

Her talented guest stars included the charming Yu Hin Bryan Chan who joined Elena for an energetic “Love Is an Open Door” (Kristen Anderson-Lopez/Robert Lopez from Frozen). Her husband Jacob Khalil displayed his talents as a musician and a vocalist when he joined her in “That’s How You Know” (Mencken/Schwartz from Enchanted) on a beat box. He was also featured on exquisite rendition of the one non-Disney tune of the evening, “Smile” (Charlie Chaplin/John Turner & Geoffrey Parsons) on which he thrillingly played piano as they shared the vocal. Then there was eight-year-old Evelyn Cawley, Elena’s student, who possesses an extraordinary talent for singing and acting as she pleaded to be “Part of Your World” (Menken/Howard Ashman from The Little Mermaid).

But it was the star who dominated the evening with her lovely voice (somewhat reminiscent of the Golden Age Jane Powell) and her fine acting instincts. Her honesty and sincerity kept away the easy sentimentality this material could attract as she explored such numbers as “A Change in Me” (Menken/Tim Rice from Beauty and the Beast) and the Frozen’s iconic “Let It Go” (the Lopezes). Hopefully, Victoria Elena will return with a whole new batch of material for her next show.

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."