By Linda Amiel Burns
Joan Ryan has been living in Los Angeles for many years, and commuting between the two coasts. However, she is thrilled to now be living in NY full time and performing at many clubs in the city, even being chosen “Top Artist” by Broadway World. Her many acting credits include the LA cast of the musical “Ruthless!” and Tina Paladrino on the popular TV series “Saved By the Bell.” This talented singer, boasts a four-octave range, and brought her new solo show “Joan Ryan in Concert” to a full house at The Green Room 42 on March 7th. Her rockin’ 6 piece band was led by Music Director Phil Reno on piano, Paul Tafoya on trumpet, Daniel Dickinson on reeds, Mark McLean on drums, Tom Hubbard on bass, and Steve Bargonetti on guitar with many of the arrangements by Ron Abel. Deftly directed by Will Nunziata, this was an eclectic mix of songs from Joan’s life with no particular theme.
Joan began her show walking through the audience with an inspiring “Feeling Good” that set the tone for the evening as it allowed her fun and optimistic personality to shine through. She followed this with an interesting rendition of “Shall we Dance” from The King and I that began slowly and picked up speed to an exciting finish. Joan is surely a “belter” and wrote the clever song “Belt-a-Holic” with friends Stephen Within and Andrew MacBean to explain her addiction to that form of singing from the time she was a little girl. However, my favorite moments of the evening were the quieter times when the many facets of her extraordinary voice came through as in “Desperado,” Sondheim’s pairing of “Not a Day Goes By” with “Johanna” and “The Way He Makes Me Feel.”
It was amusing when Joan talked about her “audition song” as a young girl and it was the inappropriate “And When I Die” by Blood, Sweat and Tears. Several highlights of the show included the swinging “Cornet Man” with Paul Tatoya playing the horn on stage with her, and Jerry Herman’s “I Don’t Want To Know” explaining that she took a 48 hour detox from social media and the set up gave a new meaning to the song. I enjoyed the medley of “Move On” with “On a Clear Day” that closed the show along with the well-chosen encore “You’re My Home,” sung as a warm thank you to the enthusiastic audience who attended the show and supported her. Joan Ryan is a welcome addition to the NY Cabaret Scene and we are all looking forward to seeing what comes next.
Photos: Genevieve Rafter Keddy
Video: Magda Katz