Posted on April 8, 2007 at 8:46 pm

Jeremy Gerard’s review here.

Jason Robert Brown Brings Tin Pan Alley to Midtown Jazz Bastion
By Jeremy Gerard

April 5 (Bloomberg) / At Birdland last night, composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown had the crowd doing something many of his fans might find surprising: laughing.

Brown won a Tony award for Parade a lynching tale that has to be one of the darkest musicals ever written. In concert, he’s very funny in a charming, self-deprecating way. And as he, accompanied by bassist Randy Landau and guitarist Gary Sieger, amply demonstrated, he knows how to rock.

Brown drew heavily on a catalogue from his own shows; there was even a number from Parade. But other songs came from his latest musical, 13 (which has yet to be seen in New York), and The Last Five Years, Brown’s engaging dissection of the brief life and sad death of a youthful marriage. The highlight was Shiksa Goddess, which the crowd knew so well it was practically a singalong.

[NOTE FROM JRB: I didn’t actually sing “Shiksa Goddess,” so I’ll presume he was referring to “I Could Be In Love With Someone Like You.”]

Also represented was the show he’s working on now, a musical adaptation of Honeymoon in Vegas, including a title number that lampoons the best things about that city with exceptional glee and good humor.

The proceedings were further enhanced by the guest appearance of Lauren Kennedy, a fine interpreter of Brown’s work who just came off a stint as the Lady of the Lake in Spamalot. As that credit suggests, Kennedy can belt with the best of them, though she is also an exceptionally moving torch stylist. Through three numbers, including a duet with the composer, she brought a great sense of showbiz tradition and swagger to the set.

Brown continues at Birdland, 315 W. 44th St. in Times Square, through April 7. Information: +1-212-581-3080; http://www.birdlandjazz.com .

(Jeremy Gerard is an editor for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

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