By Eric Milkereit, Local lifestyle & entertainment blogger
I have to take break from writing about Italy to return to my favorite topic of late. Of course, the Cabaret. It’s time to close out the Winter-Spring season with a tour de force performance from LaChanze.
I have a long history and strong love for LaChanze. It dates back many, many years ago to a trip to New York with my college friends. We would periodically take long weekends and visit some of our Illinois cohorts who had moved to New York. We got tickets to see Ragtime, which will always be one of my favorite shows. I could listen to the cast recording a million times and never get tired of it. But I actually wasn’t supposed to see LaChanze. The original “Sarah” on Broadway was Audra McDonald but she was out sick with laryngitis. She missed most of the shows that entire week. I was terribly disappointed because Audra is IT for me. However, I soon learned that LaChanze is also IT for me too! I was blown away and since then I have been a fan, follower and rarely miss the opportunity to see LaChanze.
So it was a no brainer to go to the Cabaret for LaChanze’s show. Duh. Like we’d be anywhere else. It was a wonderful show with a wide repertoire spanning Broadway, jazz, R&B and even a little bit of Motown. She did a great Diana Ross medley of lesser-known songs that I really appreciated. I had all but forgotten the song “Be a Lion”, which was a very popular song at awards banquets, choir concerts, graduations and the like while I was in high school. LaChanze really killed it on that one.
But it was the songs that made her famous that stood out. Songs from Once on this Island and The Color Purple, for which she won a Tony, were the songs that made me perk up the most. I love, love, love Once on This Island. It’s a lovely show and LaChanze portrayed Ti Moune. Seek it out, if you don’t know it. I just love it and it’s something I often hum randomly. The music is beyond catchy and you’ll discover LaChanze early in her career.
The recent revival of The Color Purple has been very well received and has made a star out of Cynthia Errivo but LaChanze was there as Celie the first time around along with Renée Elise Goldberry as Nettie. I will freely admit that the show itself is not my favorite but LaChanze was the best thing about it as Celie. And LaChanze really tore it up at the Cabaret with songs from The Color Purple. LaChanze knows how to work a room, bring the audience along with her, keep it light. That’s what a pro does. She’s not new at this at all. And to top it all off, she’s simply gorgeous.
As per usual, a wonderful evening with stellar entertainment. Now is the time for all of you to look at your calendars and commit to shows this summer. The season is out and you can check it out here: http://www.thecabaret.org/index.php?cID=146. There’s some tip top talent coming to Indianapolis. You can’t go wrong with any of the shows. We’ll be securing our tickets later this month and you should too.
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"One of the best environments for serious music fans in town!"Cabaret Guest