Over the years, the musical theatre geeks (of whom I count myself as one) have been able to feed their need for Broadway superstars at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. It’s like New York is brought right to our doorstep and we love it! This year’s festival seems to be a musical theatre dream world filled with a plethora of divas of the Broadway stage.
Eden Espinosa is one such exciting import. Best known for her role as Elphaba in the Broadway production of Wicked (and also understudy for the original, Idina Menzel) she has also played the role in Los Angeles and San Francisco to critical acclaim.
In her cabaret “concert”, Espinosa gets rid of her green image quickly, opening with the signature ‘Defying Gravity’. This is a good choice. By allowing the audience to get “sing Wicked!” out of their system in the first number, Espinosa is then able to travel on a journey through the rest of her vast career.
Definitely not traditional cabaret, Espinosa does not try to fit the mould. Each song chosen in the diverse set list has a twist or arrangement particular to her and her Musical Director/husband, Joseph Abate. Some pieces work really well (like ‘I’m Not That Girl’ also from Wicked and ‘Once Upon a Time’ from Brooklyn). A rock version of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Not While I’m Around’ is certainly different but perhaps Mr S might have other opinions.
Espinosa’s love of musical theatre is plainly evident in this production and music theatre geeks will love the medley from Next to Normal and a pop version of ‘One Song, Glory’ from Rent. It’s refreshing to hear a performer bring sing work from the lesser known musicals like Brooklyn, Taboo, Ghost, etc to really feed the desire for new work.
While the stories between songs were entertaining (and Espinosa is obviously in love with Australia – her Aussie accent is pretty good too!) they were a bit loose and sometimes incongruous to the music (e.g. telling a joke and giggling before singing a song from Ghost about a dead husband did break the mood just briefly).
All of this is forgiven though by the warmth down-to-earth nature of this Broadway superstar. When she lets loose on the vocals, she really lets loose and demonstrates why she is so renowned.
Yet again, there was a super hot band supporting Espinosa who were very much a part of the quality of this concert and thanks must go to Adelaide artists, James Clark on cello, Mike Bevan on guitar, Alana Dawes on bass and Enrico Morena on drums.
Eden Espinosa is performing at the 2012 Adelaide Cabaret Festival 13 – 15 June in the Dunstan Playhouse. For more information visit www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au.