Director: Jeff Talbott
Musical Direction: Will Van Dyke
Reviewer: Tim Koch
There’s something great happening at the Sheen Center in NoHo. Twice now this year (and a previously unscheduled upcoming third concert), the impeccable Kate Baldwin and her talented friends have taken an enthusiastic audience on a whirlwind musical journey.
As with her first concert (exploring the music of Michael John LaChiusa), Kate Baldwin and Friends: The Girl Who Stayed shares the music of a single composer – in this case, Will Van Dyke – showcasing songs from throughout his career. At this concert, Van Dyke himself leads his wonderful band, The Whiskey 5, from on the piano, and provides commentary and insight alongside Baldwin. The songs chosen for the night are a great mix of his musical theater writing, EPs, and album singles.
Van Dyke’s infectious contemporary music often pulsates with a strong undercurrent of piano or guitar behind the vocalist; his music moves and carries the audience through each song. His lyrics often focus on the inner emotions of the singer and have an innate ability to convey story and emotion.
Baldwin herself is enough reason to see anything she’s in – her ability to tackle difficult vocal passages with ease and breeze through fast-paced lyrics proves why she consistently performs on our country’s top stages. Her charming personality invites the audience to share the moment with her.
In particular, Baldwin’s talent to bring realized character and emotion into any song, fast or slow, emotionally deep or just-having-fun, shines in Van Dyke’s music. From the fast-paced opening number Small Town Kid, through the introspective and self-described ‘Ladies at a Turning Point’ trilogy (If You Only Knew, September, and Magic), to the soaring The Girl Who Ran Away, Baldwin’s range, both vocal and acting, is on full display. In between songs, her infectious storytelling and rapport with the audience makes the concert feel like it is taking place on couches with good friends rather than in a 274-seat theater.
As her friends are different for this concert, Baldwin proves she has a formidable roster of incredible talent in her friends list. Jessica Vosk delivers knockout performances of Another Time and A Lighter Side, while Matt Doyle’s performance of two of his own compositions, Don’t Wait and When I Let You Go, energize the room.
Kate Baldwin and Friends: The Girl Who Stayed continues the creative and fun atmosphere of the first, while introducing the audience to a composer they may not have been familiar with before. The final Kate Baldwin and Friends is not scheduled yet, but if you like great music and fun times, you should get a ticket as soon as it’s announced.
Reviewed on March 21, 2016