By Melissa Griegel . . .
“Welcome to Feinstein’s!” Haley Swindal (Chicago, Jekyll & Hyde) exclaimed from the stage on September 20th. “You have no idea how long I have waited to say those words.” The exuberant Swindal said that it has been two years since she set foot on a NYC stage. “Performing is what I love. I love it more than anything in the world.”
Her set opened with Sondheim’s “Back in Business” and rolled into “Let the Good Times Roll”. She asked the audience to repeat the refrain after her, and they enthusiastically complied. Swindal slowed down a bit with a beautifully sung rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.”
Having played the role of Matron “Mama” Morton numerous times throughout her career, Swindal wrote parody lyrics for “When You’re Good to Mama” all about the pandemic. She was playing Mama Morton when the pandemic hit and she packed up suitcases for herself, her husband, and her 3 ½ year-old, for what she thought would be a week and a half trip to a family horse farm in Ocala, Florida. Before she knew it, she was tie-dying everything, burning food, and learning to navigate Zoom preschool.
“The last year and a half without theater has been hard. That is an incredible understatement. However, as a result, I have now found myself in a place of gratitude for the constants in my life, for my family, for my friendships. My grandmother used to say, ‘if you can count one hand of true friends, you have been blessed.’ I have been blessed.”
Swindal was joined on stage by Music Director/Arranger/Pianist Scott Cady, bass guitarist Dick Sarpola, and drummer Dan Gross. The show was directed by Barry Kleinbort.
Some of her Broadway selections included “I’m in a Tree” from Pettybelle, “Come down from that Tree” from Once on This Island, “A New Life” and “Someone Like You” from Jekyll and Hyde, “I Won’t Send Roses” from Mack and Mabel, “I Have Dreamed” from The King and I, and “You and I” from Goodbye, My Chips. She also included “It’s Not Where You Start, It’s Where You Finish” from the 1973 show Seesaw, which holds a special place in her heart as her grandfather was a producer of that show along with James Nederlander.
Swindal also mixed in some favorites old and new such as “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles and “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” as well as “When You’re Smiling” by Ray Henderson and Lew Brown. Swindal glowed on stage and seemed truly happy and grateful to be back performing at Feinsteins/54 Below.
Photos by Melissa Griegel