A rising young singer tries too hard to please, but impresses with her great voice and enthusiasm.
By Joel Benjamin
Rebecca LaChance’s opening mash-up—her word—of an a cappella “Man of Constant Sorrow” (Dick Burnett) and a wonderfully odd, bouncy “If I Were a Rich Man” (Bock/Harnick) boded well for the singer who made a splash in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
She also touched on her Broadway experience with a “Broadway Sleep Medley” which included expansive interpretations of “Heart n’ Hand” (Adam Guettel), “Moonshine Lullaby” (Irving Berlin) and “Sleepy Man” (Alfred Uhry/Robert Waldman) with guest vocalists Emily Olson and Déa Julien. A jazzy “Time Heals Everything” (Jerry Herman) featured a long violin solo by her music director, Mark T. Evans and a rueful “Another Life” (Jason Robert Brown, from Bridges of Madison County) was the closest LaChance came to darker, yearning feelings on the program.
That was pretty much it as far as Broadway material is concerned unless Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” sung in gorgeous harmony with Ms. Julien and Mark Banik, is now considered Broadway repertory.
The “folk” in the title of her show was represented by a sing-along of the classic Woody Guthrie anthem, “This Land Is Your Land” and a sweet “You Can Close Your Eyes” (James Taylor) with Mr. Banik who hugged her at the end. Bob Dylan’s “Times They Are a Changing” proved to be remarkably relevant.
There were songs she wrote with her music director Mark T. Evans who proved to be a triple threat: pianist, guitarist, violinist and arranger. These original tunes ranged from a visit to child hood crushes to images of disorientation.
A “By My Side Mash-up” included Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair” and Kenny Loggins’ “Danny’s Song” all expressively enhanced up by her three backup singing friends.
If it seems that Broadway: What the Folk? was all over the place, it was. The show never quite gelled into a clear portrait of LaChance, often irritatingly, y-o-u-n-g and goofily unsophisticated. She has a great instrument and lives to please her audience, but could benefit from a director to give some theatrical shape to her set.
Adding to the lack of focus was a tendency for almost all the arrangements to avoid big endings, allowing the music to just fade out.
There’s no doubt that Rebecca LaChance is a wonderful, enthusiastic young singer, with a sweet country twang in her voice. She’s quite lovely, too.
She got fine musical support from her band and musical guests. The band was completed by Joe Young (guitar and banjo), Jerry DeVore (bass) and Allen Branch (drums).
Rebecca LaChance – Broadway: What the Folk? (June 9, 2016)
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