Feinstein’s 54 Below Review 2018: Things Are Looking Up

Laura Osnes and Tony Yazbeck Soar for a Night of Gershwin and Musical Theatre Greats

By Logan Martell

This review is for the 7:00 pm performance on October 6, 2018.

Broadway stars Laura Osnes and Tony Yazbeck reunited at Feinstein’s/54 Below for a week-long run of performances that drew upon their passion for singing and dancing, as well as their mutual love of the works of George and Ira Gershwin among other composers.

Accompanied by pianist and music director Fred Lassen, what followed was an evening of highly spirited song from two performers at the very top of their game.

Catchy and Condensed

The show kicked off with a fun Gershwin medley featuring songs such as “Somebody Loves Me” and “S’Wonderful.” Following this, Tony Yazbeck performed the first of his solo numbers, “Someone to Watch Over Me,” from “Oh, Kay!” This made for a tender shift in mood, highlighted by Yazbeck’s vulnerable delivery and ease in the upper register of his voice. As if he weren’t done pouring out his passion, Yazbeck finished this song and went straight to tap dancing, laying down a percussive beat as Laura Osnes began to sing “Embraceable You” from “Girl Crazy,” her eyes glued to her the fancy footwork of her partner and creating an enchanting dialogue between song and dance. This energy carried over into Osnes’ jubilant rendition of “The Man I Love” from “The American in Paris.”

Celebrating Bernstein

Paying tribute to the great American composer Leonard Bernstein, Yazbeck sang “Something’s Coming” from “West Side Story.” His reserve of stamina showed no signs of slowing down as he navigated the fast-paced lyrics set to the driving piano and its famous use of the tritone between C and F#.

Among the evening’s highlights was their duet of “Carried Away” from Bernstein’s “On The Town.” This frantically-fun number saw Osnes and Yazbeck swing each other about the stage while sharing anecdotes about the mishaps caused by their uncontainable spirit. Here Yazbeck demonstrated a surprising stability in his voice despite deliberately shaking himself in an exaggerated manner.

Favorites Abound

Touching upon her time in the 2008 production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific,” Laura Osnes spoke briefly about its role in shaping her as an artist and as a person, saying she went “from a girl to a woman” during her time as Nellie Forbush. This blossoming was highly present as she sang “Wonderful Guy,” which began on an almost deprecating note, only to open up by the first chorus into a beaming exaltation of love capped off with the many repetitions of the lyrics “I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love… etc.” meant to take the singer’s breath away.

Following this, Tony Yazbeck shared his experience with Mark “Moose” Charlap and Julie Styne’s musical “Peter Pan” which was made all the more magical for him when, during his run, he received the news that he was going to become a father.

After singing “Neverland,” Yazbeck followed with “All I Need is the Girl” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Gypsy.” His delivery of the lyrics was punctuated with brief interludes of dancing, including a number of tight spins.

Changing gears, Yazbeck and Osnes revealed to the audience their love of Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man,” listing Marian Paroo and Harold Hill as being among their respective dream roles before launching into a duet of “Till There Was You.” Here, Osnes really illuminated the lyrics of the verse, painting with her voice the phrase “and there was music. And there were wonderful roses. They tell me in sweet fragrant meadows of dawn and dew.”

The gentle ending they gave it set up a humorous segue, full of playful bickering, into the Gershwin’s “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off” from “Shall We Dance?” Their dancing was followed by a second medley of Gershwin songs such as “Slap that Bass,” and “I Got Rhythm” from “Girl Crazy,” as well as “Fascinating Rhythm” from “Lady Be Good.”

Wrapping Up

Bringing the evening to a close, Osnes and Yazbeck performed the Gershwin standard “Our Love is Here to Stay” from “The Goldwyn Follies,” and followed by an encore of “How Long Has This Been Going On” from “Funny Face.” This last number served to leave the audience in laughter and ended the performance on a strong, joyful note.

The energy and passion shared by Osnes and Yazbeck was all too clear throughout the night, and while their setlist celebrated the shows and composers that have left a lasting impression upon their careers, it’s safe to say that this pair of triple threats will continue to delight audiences for years to come.


ReviewsStage Reviews