A Review by John Weatherford
On The Air: Songs for Marian McPartland, written and performed by Stacy Sullivan, just completed its limited run at the York Theatre Company. To say that it was/is a smash hit, would be an understatement. Stacy Sullivan is a joy to experience and her power and stage presence are equaled by none. As I have stated before, she’s the real thing. She exceeds any expectation an audience could want and takes her lucky patrons on a trip to make believe. She is an artist in the purest form – she transpires. She levitates her admirers with her style and grace, while always embracing them with an energy and warmth that few can achieve.
Ms. Sullivan’s ability to take an old standard and rephrase it, as to appear never to have been heard before, is awesome. She takes each word and lyric, and cuddles them with a sense of purpose and importance. She weaves a silky tapestry into her performance while never letting us see how it is done.
For me, a true artist is not just about style and grace. A true artist is not just about perfection of their instrument or the power of their presentation. For me, a true artist is the one who has prepared their material to the place of muscle memory, allowing their life energy to reach out and embrace the life energies of their audience. For me, a true artist can make a healing difference in the lives of those present. And, as I have stated in previous reviews, for me, this true artist is named Stacy Sullivan.
Above all, she is grateful for her gifts and her ability to make a difference in the world she occupies.
I admire her humanity and her understanding of life’s difficulties. She knows that life is not an easy path and, she knows that the performing artist must provide solace and guidance to those seeking emotional levitation through the arts. Perhaps this is why her tribute shows have been so well received. She understands the depth of those artists she selects. She understands what they have achieved in spite of what they have experienced.
Ms. Sullivan has surrounded herself with masterful musicians. Jon Weber, musical director and accompanist, is remarkable. He is the beneficiary of Ms. McPartland’s “On the Air,” Piano Jazz host. Steve Doyle is sought after by a variety of artists, as he is known for his sensitive and passion-felt control of the bass. This team is responsible for her tribute to Peggy Lee. (As a side note if you do not have a copy of the Peggy Lee tribute CD you are truly missing out.)
Congratulations to the York Theatre Company and its Producing Artistic Director James Morgan for having the foresight to bring this tribute show to Marian McPartland to their home. This is not the last you’ll see of this show, I can promise you that. Nor is it the last you’ll hear of Stacy Sullivan. She has a glorious future. I can only hope to experience as much of it as I can.
Photos: Russ Weatherford