Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Harry Connick, Jr. In Concert On Broadway (The SOB Review)

Harry Connick, Jr. In Concert On Broadway (The SOB Review) - Neil Simon Theatre, New York, New York

**1/2 (out of ****)

With a rousing finale that had his entire audience leaping to their feet cheering, you'd think Harry Connick, Jr. had just performed one of the most exciting concerts in history.

Indeed, after New Orleans trombonist Lucien Barbarin hit the stage midway through the second act with an electrifying confidence and soulful commitment, the entire joint was jumping, including (finally) Connick himself.

There's no denying the appeal of Connick, whose crooning vocals are extraordinarily easy on the ears. Whether he was singing standards or tunes from his two Broadway shows -- The Pajama Game, in which he starred, and Thou Shalt Not, which he scored -- his exceptional voice was as velvety smooth as ever.

But for having practically grown up on the stage, Connick seems surprisingly stiff and uncomfortable in his own skin, particularly when it's covered by a tuxedo. He began loosening up ever so slightly during the first act as he loosened his bow tie. Yet as he delved into some self-indulgant riffing on the ivories, his guard was never down.

After seeing Million Dollar Quartet, I remarked how excellent Levi Kreis was, comparing him to "Harry Connick, Jr. doing Jerry Lee Lewis without coming across as stilted." How prescient that line in my review proved to be. In Harry Connick, Jr. In Concert On Broadway, a very stilted Connick reminded me more of Perry Como. For you kids at home who have never heard of Como, the singing great was so low key that he was often jokingly accused of being asleep while performing. I wanted to shout, "Wake up, Harry!"

Fortunately, Connick did just that with a rollicking second act that provided a slice right out of the French Quarter. However, the real star of the act was Barbarin, who embraced the audience in lieu of Connick. He was responsible for delivering and transforming the concert into an event.

As far as giving the audience what they wanted, Connick ultimately struck out by only offering up one encore tune, much to the disappointment of the crowd that began chanting, "Harry! Harry! Harry!" a full five minutes after the final curtain fell.

While this concert gig closed on Saturday, my performance was filmed, presumably for television. So you'll likely have a chance to see exactly what I saw sometime in the near future.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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At 03 August, 2010, Anonymous Karen said...

I think you were at the Friday show with me. Harry was very stiff and not at all comfortable with the cameras everywhere. I was at the Monday show as well and it was a completely different performer up there - loose and fun and chatty. It's too bad that he closed up a great run with such a dud of a show.

At 03 August, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks Karen. Yes, I was at Friday's performance and it was incredibly stiff.

Were you as surprised as I was that he never came out one final time?

At 04 August, 2010, Blogger Unknown said...

FYI I know that Harry (who cares a whole lot about his fans) did not come back for a second encore because there was a very strict curfew at the theatre....he had to be off the stage or he would incur major overtime charges

At 04 August, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks Charles. That's good to know. But it was very strange that the house lights didn't automatically come on - that's a sure sign that the show really is over.

At 04 August, 2010, Blogger Unknown said...

Steve - the house lights were on DURING the whole show because of the filming! There was no other way to signal to the audience without him coming back on stage - that was the problem.

At 04 August, 2010, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks Charles. You must either be a die-hard fan or associated with the show.

As for the house lights, the theatre lighting certainly seemed rather dim to me, but perhaps that was because the lighting from the stage and cameras had already been turned off.


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