ONE NIGHT ONLY: JEREMY JORDAN AND THE NEW YORK POPS

Jeremy Jordan

 

By Brian Scott Lipton

 

A slight altering of one’s stance, a small change in vocal timbre, an ability to effortlessly seem 17 or 47 – or even a woman. These attributes combine to make Jeremy Jordan one of musical theater’s most treasured (if sadly underused) leading men, and all of them were fortunately on full display in his spectacular solo concert with The New York Pops on Friday night.

It wasn’t his first time at Carnegie Hall; Jordan previously appeared there with his high school choir and at one of the Pops’ star-studded galas, but it was nonetheless his first chance to truly command this vaunted venue. And he knew it! Over the course of two hours, Jordan imbued every song selection – and the character behind it – with true passion and depth, from West Side’s Story’s optimistic Tony in “Something’s Coming” to despairing songwriter Jimmy Collins declaiming Joe Iconis’ fabulous “Broadway Here I Come” from the TV series Smash to the brash young novelist Jamie Wellerstein singing his own praises in “Moving Too Fast” from The Last 5 Years. (I do wish, however, that the song’s composer had not re-orchestrated the number as the Pops occasionally drowned out Jordan, which is a double shame considering the brilliance of Brown’s lyrics.)

 

Jeremy Jordan

 

Yet, as good as these selections were, they almost paled in comparison to a few others: Jordan’s sublime take on the stunning “She Used to Be Mine” (from Waitress) in which he seemed to literally step into the shoes of abused waitress Jenna; a positively ethereal version of “Bring Him Home” (from Les Miserables); a stunning rendition of Carousel’s gorgeous, heartbreaking “Soliloquy”; and, of course, the actor’s now-signature number “Santa Fe” from the Broadway blockbuster “Newsies,” marking him now-and-forever as the tough-but-tender newsboy Jack Kelly. Each of the above songs became mini one-act plays before our eyes.

Jordan’s well-crafted program (designed with Pops conductor Steven Reineke) showed other facets of his talents as well, including being a songwriter. His moody composition “Undertow” is one I’d like to hear again. Meanwhile, Jordan proved he could easily handle The Great American Songbook during a medley of five Oscar-winning tunes that was created by Johnny Mandel for Andy Williams in the 1960s. (I never knew the gorgeous “Mona Lisa” was from a movie, never mind that it earned an Academy Award!)

 

Ashley Spencer – Jeremy Jordan

 

The star also showed off some considerable rock chops in a short mash-up of Extreme’s “More Than Words” and Warrant’s “Heaven” from Rock of Ages opposite his wife, Ashley Spencer. (The two met while he was starring in the show on Broadway and she was preparing to audition for it.) Spencer later returned to the stage for a special encore, in which the pair showed off their chemistry in a series of duets that included “Our Children” (from Ragtime), “As Long As You’re Mine” (from Wicked), “Come What May” (from Moulin Rouge) and “Suddenly, Seymour” (from Little Shop of Horrors).

Those audience members who came primarily to hear the Pops in action may have left a little disappointed as they only performed three selections on their own. But for Jordan’s many fans (some screaming at their top of the lungs in the balcony), oh, what a beautiful evening indeed.

 

Steven Reineke, Ashley Spencer, Jeremy Jordan(Photo Genevieve Rafter Keddy)

 

Photo: Genevieve Rafter Keddy

 

www.NewYorkPops.org

Photos: Maryann Lopinto except as noted for backstage

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