By Marcina Zaccaria . . .
Looking backward and forward, Broadway Rocks at Chelsea Table + Stage keeps us remembering the songs from our favorite rock operas.
Beginning the evening was “Easy to Be Hard” first heard in Hair, in 1968. Both heartfelt and spiritually sound, it was a great combination of folk and rock sung by Monica Ricketts. The second song was an almost menacing interpretation by Ariel Neydavoud of “Heaven on Their Mind” from Jesus Christ Superstar. It’s difficult to consider rock music on Broadway without acknowledging these shows. Favorite tunes from the past continued. Leandra Ellis-Gaston stepped up to the microphone with an appropriately ungodly rendition of “Acid Queen” from The Who’s Tommy.
Past the screaming guitars and pulsing keyboards, we recognize the singer’s presence, without monologue, without lengthy introductory speeches. Wardrobe included rose colored short dresses, sheer black shirts, and some great bangles, baubles, and beads. Songs continued with reliable standards from Rent, ballads from Memphis, and a fine duet from Little Shop of Horrors. By the time we heard “You Oughta Know” from Jagged Little Pill, sung by Yael “Yaya” Reich, we had to appreciate how a 90s sound made its way past those memorable MGM showtunes, with a feminist perspective that redefined the industry.
While cabaret artists so often make it sound smooth for their voice teacher, the singers in Broadway Rocks reach deep, never wailing without virtue. More song without dance continued, with selections from Heathers, Waitress, and Once: The Musical. Then, finally, celebrating the Broadway of today, “Your Song” from 2019’s Moulin Rouge! closed out the evening.
Featured Image: Yael “Yaya” Reich (Jagged Little Pill)