Reviewed by Joe Regan Jr.
who was so funny and wonderful as Jolene Oaks in “Dirty Rotten Scandals”: on Broadway and who was tender and moving as Little Edie in the original off-Broadway production of “Grey Gardens,” is the latest Broadway diva to perform an autobiographical show at 54 Below
. Gettelfinger, a tall beautiful woman with a clarion voice, entitled her show “Songs to Grow On.” Backed by a superb group of musicians led by her pianist arranger Micah Young, the songs that Gettelfinger sang, on March 19th, were not, for the most part, from the Broadway repertoire, but from contemporary rock and country western writers and performers. She’s from Kentucky but she didn’t sing any Rosemary Clooney songs. Her wild opening was the Annie Ross staple “Twisted” which showed off her incredible range and which she sang straight through, seemingly without taking a breath!Confessing that she was a tomboy who didn’t develop breasts for a long time, her second song was Dar Williams’ plaintive “When I Was A Boy,” dedicated to her taller younger brothers! Her parents were very supportive of her musical tastes and she realized early how tall she was going to be and rocked us with KD Lang’s “Big Boned Gal,” with her great band turning 54 Below into a honky tonk café!One of her idols was James Taylor. He was her parents’ favorite songwriter-singer and she sang the song they chose to have sung at their wedding when they were eighteen years old. It was “Something in the Way She Moves” and it was sung touchingly, although I would have preferred if she had not belted out full volume on the ending of the song.The belting worked better on John Mayer’s “Stop This Train” (…”I have to get off and go home,”) describing what terrible things had happened to several friends of hers recently.
She went into great detail about how successful her career was when she hit Broadway, first as a dancer, but how disappointing her love life was during these times. She joked about maybe because she was so tall everyone thought she was a Lesbian but then, this past year, she met the most wonderful man, the perfect man, the man she was meant to love. He wasn’t in the audience because he was performing in a show on the West Coast (her parents were in the house) but the song she sang in honor of him was an extraordinary song entitled “Somebody Loved” by the Weepies. It was gentle, compassionate and so loving, and had the crowd cheering her at the end of it. Gettelfinger changed mood immediately with another KD Lang crazy song, the tongue-twisting “My Old Addition.”
Of course she confessed that she had admired Sondheim since she was a child but realized now, at her age, that one song of his had more meaning for her at 37 after her life’s experiences. “Being Alive” was sung with a wonderful emotional emphasis on each lyric, ably demonstrating her uncanny acting prowess.
Her final two songs, both great, were Katy Perry’s “Simple” and Billy Joel’s “Summer, Highland Falls.” The audience wanted more. If she does add songs, I would love to hear her sing a few more tender ballads. Kentucky born Sara Gettelfinger is a Broadway treasure.
You can find out more about Sara Gettelfinger on her Facebook page and her Youtube clips. For more information about her Music Director, Composer/Lyricist Conductor Micah Young, who did all the wonderful arrangements, visit his site www.micahyoungmusic.com