Posted on January 3, 2019 at 4:21 am

It’s been an unbelievable year of shows at the SubCulture residency. So many dazzling artists doing thrilling work and really pushing me to keep up – Carrie Manolakos, Sutton Foster, the astonishing quartet of Dr. Patrice E. Turner, A.J. Sojola, NaTasha Yvette Williams and Nova Payton, the dynamic duo of Blaemire and Iman, Gavin Creel, Camille Thurman, Frances Ruffelle, and Shoshana Bean, Rachel Bay Jones, Cynthia Erivo and Jimmy Greene, Jeremy Jordan, Ty Taylor and Sierra Boggess, Carolee Carmello and Solea Pfeiffer – really, just click on those set lists and marvel at the level of talent I get to make music with – but I knew I wanted to really set the bar super high for the last show of 2018. Therefore I invited superstar Mykal Kilgore, just on the heels of recording the new cast album for Songs for a New World (available January 25!), to come raise the roof with us. And, just to make sure we could support whatever crazy ideas Mykal and I came up with, I asked Jesse Warren-Nager to put together a choir of ten monster singers, which we dubbed The Voices of Fierceness.

In all the years since I first wrote the Chanukah Suite, I’ve never heard it performed live anywhere except in Los Angeles, where the Master Chorale programmed it regularly and sang the hell out of it. (I have seen some really great performances on YouTube.) So I thought it was time for a proper full-out Broadway-style performance here in New York City – there’s nothing like taking a room full of confident gospel singers and making them sing in Hebrew. The Voices of Fierceness did themselves proud and more, especially considering that Chanukah had already been over for a couple of days.

Have we sung any Stevie in the residency until now? We have not. Who better to rectify this grievous omission than Mr. Kilgore, who sang “Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away” a step HIGHER than Stevie did, and then ordered Zach to turn on the house lights so that the whole audience could join in the praise.

And from now for the rest of my life, if I have a choir, I’m going to perform “The Western Wall” from The Connector. It’s simply my favorite thing I’ve ever written to sing and play.

Was there a reprise of Mykal’s masterful performance of “Flying Home” from this summer? Yes, there was. Was there a transcendent gender-swapped-but-same-key (!) version of “See I’m Smiling” from The Last Five Years that blew everyone’s minds? Yes, there was. And was there a prayerful, magisterial “All Things In Time” to send everyone out into the holidays with their souls filled? Amen.

Wait ‘Til You See What’s Next from How We React And How We Recover (2018)
CHOIR: Chanukah Suite (2003)
MYKAL: Snowflakes of Love (music & lyrics by Toni Braxton, Keri Lewis, and Isaac Hayes; 2001)
MYKAL: Invisible from How We React And How We Recover (2018)
Hallowed Ground from How We React And How We Recover (2018)
MYKAL: Get Closer from The Bridges of Madison County (2013)
MYKAL: See, I’m Smiling from The Last Five Years (2003)
MYKAL & CHOIR: Heaven is Ten Zillion Light Years Away (music & lyrics by Stevie Wonder; 1974)
Fifty Years Long from How We React And How We Recover (2018)
JRB & CHOIR: The Western Wall from The Connector (2018)
MYKAL & CHOIR: Flying Home from Songs for a New World (1995)
Melinda from How We React And How We Recover (2018)
MYKAL: All Things in Time from How We React And How We Recover (2018)

JRB: piano, vocal
Mykal Kilgore: vocal
Gary Sieger: guitar
Todd Reynolds: violin
Randy Landau: bass
Jamie Eblen: drums

The Voices of Fierceness:
Adee David
John Edwards
Suzanne Fiore
Brad Greer
Zonya Love Johnson
Ben Roseberry
Will Stone
Anne Fraser Thomas
Jenifer Thigpen
Gabe Violett
(Vocal contractor: Jesse Warren-Nager)

Next show: JANUARY 4 with Betsy Wolfe!

Next album release: Songs for a New World (2018 Encores! Cast) (preorder now!) released on JANUARY 25!

Credits:

Photos by Erika Kapin, erikakapinphotography.com