Jana Robbins: I’m Still Here

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By Susan Hasho

 

And, she’s been there–actor, singer, and Broadway producer. Opening the show with “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” Jana Robbins moved “To Dream the Impossible Dream” and followed that with a Dream medley (i.e.”Dream Lover,” and “I Had a Dream Last Night”). It became clear that she’s still very much here motivated by the power of her dreams; dreams that started as a young performer and extended to affect the creation of a total piece of theatre by producing—magnifying her ability to create. The evening at Feinstein’s/54Below was personal and infused with the power of musical theatre connecting to the heart and soul of an artist, powerfully enough to last a lifetime.

As a young woman, Jana sang in her brother’s band and then came to New York City to be on Broadway. When the opportunity to audition as Tyne Daly’s understudy in Gypsy arose, she got the job. She recreated her audition for us by performing “Zip” from Pal Joey in awesome detail, miming a striptease. Her musical director Joe Goodrich joined her in a medley from Gypsy and was the perfect partner exhibiting a warm, charming presence and great singing voice.

 

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Jana Robbins shines as a performer. She sang “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” (Sunset Boulevard) saying that her 54 Below experience was exactly a mirror of this song for her. Her performance was multi-faceted and riveting. Then there was a notable moment of risk. She played the stripper with a horn in Gypsy, recreating this lady with a full-on bump and grind. “You Gotta Have a Gimmick” was one of the highpoints of the evening. Man, can she do it!

She also put on her producer’s hat and introduced the composer of the new show she’s producing. Andre Catrini performed his song “My World” from The Astonishing Times of Timothy Crachit—a stellar experience.

By the time the song ”I’m Still Here” (Follies by Stephen Sondheim) came along toward the end of the evening, Jana Robbins’ experience and talent had been well established. It was a matter of sitting back and taking in a fully realized narrative of honesty, grit and humor—and a woman totally capable of “going for it” – watching Ms. Robbins dreaming in action.

 

www.Feinstein’s/54 Below.com – 254 W 54th Street, Cellar – New York, NY 10019. Tickets and information: 646-476-3551.

Photos: Neal Bennington

 

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