by Matt Smith
You know the age-old argument that says husband and wife should never work together? The one that says being in such close quarters with no personal boundaries would cause unwanted conflict and tension, creating rifts in a marriage that could do severe damage to their relationship at home as well? (Yeah… it’s a real thing).
But after listening to just one song from incomparable Main Stem sweethearts Orfeh and Andy Karl, you’d never know that such an argument existed — and if you did, judging by the chemistry of these two, you’d wonder how it was ever proven to be true in the first place?!
The “cutest Broadway power couple” deliver a dazzling dual evening at Feinstein’s/54 Below, offering a delightful mix of humor, heart, and of course, that signature belt, that not only proves how well they work together as a couple, but actually leaves you loving them as a pair even more (that is, as Orfeh points out at various instances in the show, if you did, in fact, know they were married when you came in the door).
There’s certainly no denying these two are terrific performers individually, and they waste no time in letting that be known. For one, Orfeh proudly displays her aforementioned signature belt and unmatched riffy riffs with show-stopping takes on Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart,” and the festively fitting “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home,” both of which, naturally, brought the house to its feet. She also cleverly draws on her past as a recording artist, recalling a hilarious story about the creation of a Japanese version of a song she wrote in her teen years, before proceeding to sing that very number — to perfection, I might add, albeit, not in Japanese — titled, “You Don’t Know.”
Karl, on the other hand, made us all melt with his silky smooth rendition of “What are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” and the rock ballad “I Promise You I Will,” before revisiting the past with a selection from Rocky (for which he was Tony-nominated in 2014), that touched upon the idea of hope we so desperately need right now. He finished his solo portion with his final number from Groundhog Day (in which Karl stars, coming to Broadway in March 2017). It essentially secured his spot in the Tony race when the nominations are announced next May (Seriously…. you guys ain’t ready for what’s coming in the Spring!).
But it’s their undeniable chemistry that really makes the show what it is — and lucky for us, we get it in spades throughout the evening, both musically — their A+ duet of One Direction’s “History” and the topical mashup of “Make Like A Nail” and “If I Can Dream” were particular favorites — and anecdotally — with off-the-cuff dialogue and remark exchanged with each other in between numbers. (My personal favorite? “I thought I was on fire,” Orfeh screams, when a patron blows out a birthday candle… to which Karl, without missing a beat, deadpans, “You are on fire ‘cause you’re that hot!”)
I mean, seriously… their playful rapport is just infectious. You can’t help but feel comfortable, knowing you’re in good hands, watching the two of them pal around with each other onstage. What’s more? They create a naturally relaxed, equally playful atmosphere for the audience, too, encouraging all who know a given song to sing along, taking moments in their numbers to sing directly to someone in the audience and giving shout-outs to friends and fans in the crowd, giving the whole evening an extra-personal flair.
Shout-outs, too, to special guest artist Katie Rose Clarke (Glinda to Karl’s Fiyero, during his run in Wicked in 2010) who killed with an original song detailing how to use a certain drink to spice up the holiday season, as well as the phenomenal six-piece band, led by pianist extraordinaire Steven Jamail, who accompanied the headliners with style and panache.
Simply put: Orfeh is an unstoppable force of nature, with riffs that can’t be beat; Karl will always be, now and forever, the hunky heartthrob with the golden voice to make you melt. But together, they’re next-level… and the result of putting them together is just magical, musical goodness… nuff said. But hey… with two seasoned performers that are… you know… “Legally Bound”… would you expect anything less?