By MR Anderson
The room is full of good cheer with friends, family, and longtime fans; many who know and adore her from starring roles in Rent, Cold Case, and her freshly finished Broadway revival of Falsettos. In the simplest way possible, Tracie Thoms sets the record straight from the get-go. “Here’s the deal, this is my show – but it’s your show… I’m not mad about it.” While her entrance music plays motifs on “Seasons of Love,” hinting at some sweet reminisce, Ms. Thoms has her own ideas on how her Feinstein’s 54/Below debut is going to play out.
The Rent theme slowly fades as Tracie melds into “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” (Nina Simone). Not only does the experience come with a heaping serving of soul, midway through the track, the Macbook Pro activates and the beat drops in a big way. For the rest of the evening, this signature sound makes for a wholly individual evening in a musical journey from first love, to heartbreak, and back again.
Her voice is an undeniable force, and her funk prevails in old classics like “Maybe This Time.” Between numbers, accentuated by her off the shoulder ensemble, Tracie carries her music in her hips, giving the sensation that we are all moving, too. Completing the full praise experience, Billy Porter joins the stage at the apex of the evening. He picks specific audience members from the crowd to stand and sing in a call and response jam of “What’s Going On” (Marvin Gaye) that for some is invigorating as it is terrifying.
For a story that at first seems off the cuff and carefree, the storyline of Tracie’s night is effectively clear and concise. Going full circle from love, loss, and back, the encore of the night is the much-hoped for “Seasons of Love,” complete with a full audience chorus. With the recognizing and acceptance of where one comes from and where one can go, Tracie Thoms proves that she is what you wanted, and so much more.
Her top tier musicians include: James Sampliner (Piano/MD), Jakub Griffin (drums), Steve Count (Bass).
January 11 & 14
254 W 54th St. Cellar, NYC 10019