Posted on November 13, 2007 at 11:10 am
More information about Lauren and her brand new album is available on LaurenKennedy.com!
To purchase Lauren’s album, click here and now!
Firstly, Steven Suskin’s full article here.
Lauren Kennedy: Here and Now [PS-752]
Review by Steven Suskin, Playbill.com, 11 November 2007
If Ms. Clark’s album is introspective, Lauren Kennedy’s “Here and Now” is bright and lively. “Here I Am” (from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) sets the tone, and the pace never lets up. Kennedy is lesser known than Clark; her big Broadway break was as one of the stars of The Rhythm Club, which didn’t make it to Broadway. That she is capable has long been apparent, at least to those who saw one of her numerous performances as standby to Emily Skinner in Side Show. Kennedy’s starring roles include Trevor Nunn’s West End production of South Pacific and the Illinois world premiere of Jason Robert Brown’s Off-Broadway hit, The Last Five Years.
All that is rather beside the point, once you start listening to “Here and Now.” Kennedy’s performance is pure delight. What’s more, she has assembled a collection of songs by the so-called younger generation of theatre writers. Some songs have been heard in lesser-known musicals, others are non-production numbers; all reflect especially well on their authors. Show tunes include Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin’s “Pretending That I’m Somebody Else,” one of Kennedy’s songs (and a good one) from The Rhythm Club; Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham’s “Just Not Now,” from I Love You Because; Brown’s “Mr. Hopalong Heartbreak,” from Urban Cowboy of all things; Jeff Blumenkrantz and Libby Saines’ “I’m Free,” from Precious Little Jewel; and Adam Guettel’s “Through the Mountain” from Floyd Collins. Numbers that are apparently not from theatre scores — and which are each highlights of the disc — include Andrew Lippa’s “Spread a Little Joy”; Georgia Stitt’s “My Lifelong Love”; Marcy Heisler & Zina Goldrich’s “Apathetic Man”; and Dan Lipton’s “You’ll Want Me to Shine.” And last but not least is “Easy,” from an upcoming musical by Frank Wildhorn & Jack Murphy.
A quarter of the orchestrations come from Mr. Brown, with others from Ms. Stitt, Larry Hochman, Don Sebesky, Michael Starobin, Kim Scharnberg, Lynne Shankel, and Fred Lassen (who also conducts half the tracks). Lauren Kennedy is “Here and Now,” and hopefully soon on Broadway with a chance in the spotlight.
And here’s John Simon’s more-than-a-little-oogy review, which is available in full here.
Victoria Clark: Fifteen Seconds of Grace
Lauren Kennedy: Here and Now
PS Classics, available now
Pop singers come basically in two kinds, as illustrated by new solo CDs from a pair of popular theatrical leading ladies: Lauren Kennedy’s here and now (no caps) and Victoria Clark’s FIFTEEN SECONDS OF GRACE (all caps). The lower case and block capitals reinforce my point: Lauren Kennedy is all girlishness; Victoria Clark is sheer womanliness. Otherwise put, Kennedy is the epitome of the charming college co-ed, Clark the personification of the elegant young matron.
Don’t assume that I prefer the one to the other; I think the twin triumphs of creation are the Girl and the Woman. [NOTE FROM JRB: Those with weak stomachs who don’t wish to imagine John Simon in any state of arousal are advised to just jump past these next two paragraphs.] Accordingly, I respond equally to Kennedy’s rapt girlishness and complementary youthful brashness as to Clark’s sophisticated modulations and deeper emotions. It would be a sad world if the youthful lark and the riper thrush (nightingales exist only in opera coloratura) were to go missing.
Now if there is anything even better than a girl or a woman, it is a girl who at the right time turns womanly, and a woman who knows the moment when to revert to girlishness. And I am happy to report that that is exactly what these two remarkable songstresses can do. Note that I don’t call them songbirds, which would be too disembodied. Look at the pictures that come with the albums, and you’ll see two highly desirable females.
Victoria Clark, who has always looked a bit older than her actual age, comes across as the warm, experience-ripened, sexy wife any man would give both his eyeteeth for. Lauren Kennedy looks like the precocious teenager easily the mistress of any older man’s fantasies. [NOTE FROM JRB: Yuck! Yuck! I have to go throw up now.] If I dwell on their pictures it is precisely because these looks translate so grippingly into their singing.
Both artists have fine, flexible voices; both do more than merely render a song—they live it. With the choices in Clark’s dozen and Kennedy’s baker’s dozen numbers you will not wholly agree; both contain some cold potatoes I dropped as eagerly as if they were hot ones. But then there are those winning others.
Take Clark’s rendition of the wonderful “Someone to Cook For” by Jessica Molaskey and John Pizzarelli, which exudes the sweetness of molasses and the tartness of pizza. Never did eats sound sexier, the sure way to a man’s heart through his stomach—or, more accurately, through Clark’s mellow sounds good enough to eat. In her three repetitions of “Maybe I’ll cook for you” at the end of the song, each is more amorously sensual, and the last sheer erotic deliquescence.
On the next track, Clark gives a rib-tickling and heaven-storming rendition of Johnny Mercer’s “Something’s Gotta Give,” followed by a heart-meltingly seductive “Right as the Rain” by Arlen and Harburg. And what a climax the concluding Irving Berlin “I Got Lost in His Arms,” the most loving surrender you’ll ever hear on a disc or in your dreams.
Now take Lauren Kennedy. She can make you schoolboyishly or girlishly laugh along with Jason Robert Brown’s rollicking “Mr. Hopalong Heartbreak,” and, on the next track, redeem Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy’s simplistic “Easy” by conjuring up the sincerest sentiment of your never-forgotten first love.
Next, she offers the clever Marcy Heisler-Zina Goldrich tango, “Apathetic Man,” adorable ingenuousness growing up before our very ears into cynical resignation as Kennedy bittersweetly laments: “Is there anything more sexy than an apathetic man …any drug more potent than an apathetic man?”
And, on track twelve, what a rousing hymn to feminine liberation in the Jeff Blumenkrantz-Libby Saines “I’m Free,” brilliantly proclaiming a young woman’s emancipation in body and soul.
These are two treasurable CDs. What would make them better yet would be booklets that reproduced the lyrics. Soprano voices cannot help making their higher notes muffle the words; for a perfect singalong such as both singers entice us to, it would be heaven to have the texts in hand.
Obviously, John Simon had something else in hand while typing this review. Bleugh. Anyway, enjoy Lauren’s album, and go pick up Andréa Burns’s new album (A Deeper Shade Of Red)as well!