by Matt Smith
With Standout Solo Show Debut, Eva Noblezada Unequivocally Proves She’s a “Girl No More”
As the lights dim, we’re plunged into darkness, as a hush falls over the Green Room 42, the newly-opened, funkadelic hotspot located just West of Times Square. A few rough, pulsating chords emanate from the piano at stage left. Then, a figure appears at the back of the room. “I put a spell on you, because you’re mine,” she sings, slinking her way through the crowd and onto the stage. “I don’t care if you don’t want me…I’m yours right now.”
The figure is, of course, the fiery Eva Noblezada, looking sexy and sultry as ever. She’s the fresh face with the big voice, and for the next 60 minutes, she does exactly as she sings, captivating us with all her belting, scatting and riffy riff goodness.
If you’ve been around the boards recently, there’s no doubt you know her story — or, at least her name — from her overnight rise to fame as Kim in both the West End revamp and current Broadway revival of Miss Saigon. However, emphasizing how solo concerts can allow a given performer to showcase themselves in a more “human” type of light — outside the parameters of a character — Noblezada skillfully uses the evening to “flip herself inside out,” shedding her Broadway persona in favor of a more contemporary one. With a loose, lighthearted air, she delivers a slew of pop ballads and jazz standards (and okay, a dash of musical theatre thrown in for good measure) with just the right mix of maturity and silliness to let you know you’re in good hands. Her breezy, playful rapport with pianist/second banana Rodney Bush, who tickles the ivories as good as any pro, undeniably sets the evening’s tone: you’re in for a delightfully good time.
With her constant apologizing and consistent self-depreciation, it’s clear she’s a solo concert newbie (it is her nightclub debut, after all), but, for the most part, her naiveté works in her favor. Sure, speaking of “drowning in YouTube spirals,” “sh*tting yourself,” and “getting completely hammered,” may not necessarily be the topics of conversation you’d associate with typical cabaret fare, but hey… she’s young and green, and most importantly, comfortable in her own skin enough to say it without shame. It’s a breath of fresh air, to be completely honest. She’s just Eva being Eva, keepin’ it real, and with her bubbly personality, coupled with pipes that rival Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera, it’s enough to forget and forgive the fact that she’s (admittedly) “unapologetically making an ass of herself” while riffing the hell out of each number.
The show itself is constructed as an autobiographical journey through her life and career, with songs chosen to punctuate significant moments in her personal history. Among the many highlights on the uber-eclectic set list, she wows with a bluesy rendition, complete with all the trills and riffs imaginable, of “Fly Me to the Moon,” the song she sang in her bedroom mirror, while fantasizing of being a jazz singer with “pincurls and a mole above [her] lip,” and soothes with her tender croon of “Dancing” by Elisa, a little-known Italian singer whose catalogue Noblezada discovered on one of her aforementioned trips down the YouTube rabbit hole.
But of course, you can’t have a concert with a Tony-nominated Broadway leading lady and completely deprive us of tunes from the musical theatre canon. As mentioned, she fills that bill in a variety of different ways, first with a spectacular ode to Smash (“If you’re not Team Ivy, then GTFO!” she deadpans), then with a full-out “D-Eva” (get it?) mega-medley, in which she blasts through an array of 11-o’clock numbers traditionally sung by characters she admits she’ll probably never get to play, due to age, height, or racial restrictions. Well, joke’s on them, because she absolutely slays each one; from Elphaba and Janet van de Graaf to Yentl and Sally Bowles, she satisfies all the dreamcasting needs we didn’t even know we had. There’s even a brief — but nonetheless thrilling — nod to Saigon, to give the audience a taste of her critically-lauded performance as Kim.
But at the end of the day, with the not-so-subtle title “Girl No More,” it’s clear this youngin is out to expand her repertoire beyond her musical theatre roots — aiming to distance herself from the looming label of “demure little ingénue” that most girls her age typically get. The good news is she more than succeeds in her goal, affirming she’s not only a capable young woman, fully evolved from the Jimmy Award winner we once knew, comfortable in her own shoes with her feet planted firmly on the ground, but she’s a gosh-darn superstar who brings the house down with a grace, style and class all her own.
Simply put, this spunky little Mexicasian (and that’s her brand, so don’t steal it) is a breath of fresh air on the cabaret scene, shaking things up and redefining the way we see late-night entertainment. She’s completely raw. She’s completely real. She unequivocally owns every moment, good or bad. In other words, we love her in all her melismatic glory — and it’s because of her unabashedly courageous decision to strip herself apart, lay her heart on the line, and ultimately declare, free of shame, warts and all, she’s a “girl no more.”
Eva Noblezada: Girl No More played The Green Room 42 at the Yotel (570 Tenth Ave.) on November 1st, 9th and 15th.
The Miss Saigon star will return to the venue for more hijinks on November 29th and December 13th. For tickets and/or more information, please visit thegreenroom42.com.