Lena Hall Pure Pizzazz!

Lena Hall with Brian J. Nash on piano

 

 

By Sandi Durell

 

I’ve finally found the real meaning of pizzazz – Lena Hall! Hi-octane, power and reality oozes from every pore. This Tony Award winner (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), has grit, guts and talent that goes beyond as she mesmerizes her audience at the Café Carlyle in The Art of the Audition: From Falling Apart to Nailing the Part    . . . Can’t be more explicit than this as she morphs into different vocal parts of her amazing range.

When she was 8 or 9 years old, looking like Cosette on the Les Miz poster, she started her audition process choosing Sondheim’s “Broadway Baby” (Follies) – – no “Castle on a Cloud” like all the other little girls were singing!! She grew up in the ballet world where her Mom and Dad reigned and so the stage was always a comfortable place for her.

 

 

But who is the real me she wondered. Am I a pop, Broadway or classical soprano, am I meant to do opera? For Lena Hall, she could make that choice because her vocal range and timbre are so broad . . . and speaking of broads, she really wanted to present as a sexy, sensual performer. Why, at the age of 15 auditioning for Cats, offering up “Dance 10, Looks 3 “(A Chorus Line, Hamlisch/Kleban), she figured Tits n’ Ass will surely win her the role. She was actually asked if she knew anything soprano and aced it with “A Sleepin’ Bee” (House of Flowers, Arlen/Capote) showing off her unlimited capacity of vocal expanse, then asked for something with great dramatic intention, she followed with Sondheim’s “Losing My Mind” (Follies) . . . with all the grit she could muster. This gal is quite the storyteller. Finally, at the tender age of 18 she got the call – to be the swing in the Cats tour where she would – finally – understudy all the sexy kitty roles.

 

 

Confusion, confusion . . . dye the hair red and maybe she could be the ingénue soprano (to satisfy her Mom), but she was already thinking “I’m too weird to be sexy or an ingénue.” Well, perhaps she should try opera . . . and nails it with “Der Hölle Rache“ (Die Zauberflöte), the aria sung by the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute – exhibiting a voice with great agility and range and, as she notes – at least 10% better than Florence Foster Jenkins!

Lena has great comic timing and doesn’t take herself too seriously . . . melding a vocal range that can be pretty to gritty. In the Idina Menzel Corner of her lessons in auditioning, the pop/grit is prime, i.e. (“Let It Go“ (Frozen, Bobby/Kristen Lopez); but never gets a call back for Wicked even singing the tender “I’m Not That Girl.“

Her audition for Hedwig (where she played the role of a man) occurred opposite its famous book writer John Cameron Mitchell; a contrived monologue where everything was Yak and Yak hair, and hysterically funny. . . which won her the role of Yitzhak and a Tony Award.

What more can I say! The man with me summed it up in one word “impressive!” This is a performer of star quality with all the goods to back it up. She’s accompanied by the amazingly talented Brian J. Nash on piano who also adds his vocal chops to the mix.

 

Photos: David Andrako

 

Lena Hall, and The Art of the Audition: From Falling Apart to Nailing the Part  appearing at Cafe Carlyle thru March 17 and you do not want to miss her!

The Carlyle, 980 Madison Avenue at E. 76th Street 212 744-1600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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