Judy Kuhn – The Seth Concert Series | Review – London Theatre 1

Chess Training

Judy Kuhn

Theres a crystal clear delivery in Judy Kuhns singing voice that gives her classical training away, though she admits she always knew she wasnt going to end up in the opera, having expressed a penchant in her student days, and even before then, for the theatre. She also says she always knew she didnt have a strong enough voice for the opera, though I suspect somebody at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music respectfully disagreed, having allowed her to study there in the first place.

Either way, it was evident in this concert that she has had an enjoyable experience on stage, overcoming the challenges of live performance and taking it all in her stride. As ever with concerts of this nature, where the audience also gets to know the actor by way of their personal anecdotes, there were stories about overly arduous audition processes and the sort of off-stage happenings that were arguably more dramatic than whatever was going on in the narrative of a given production.

Rags, which Kuhn appeared in on Broadway, closed after four performances (well, twenty-two if you count the eighteen previews). The director left the show while it was still being rehearsed, leaving composer Charles Strouse and lyricist Stephen Schwartz trying to direct the show themselves, whilst keeping their creative juices flowing at the same time. The leading lady, meanwhile, Teresa Stratas, known for her opera career, displayed her temper on occasion Kuhn insists it was justified given the stress the company was under. And the icing on the cake? Then, as now, the press found out about the show posting closing notices before the company did.

There were, thankfully, good times to recall too, such as a production of Fun Home that resulted in a couple of sell-out concert performances at the College of Charleston, in South Carolina, after the state legislature there withdrew funding from that college because they included the memoir by Alison Bechdel in their curriculum. The story has some LGBT content (indeed, the musical on which the book is based was the first Broadway musical to have a lesbian lead protagonist), which didnt go down well with state legislators. Kuhn still hears from students who were enrolled at the college at the time, who recall what an incredible time they all had together.

A good range of songs were included in this concert, including Someone Elses Story from Chess, and the title number from Stephen Sondheims Anyone Can Whistle. A reminder, too, for audiences on this side of the pond, who may recall her performances in the Menier Chocolate Factory production of Fiddler on the Roof, in the form of Do You Love Me?, which Kuhn duetted here with musical director Seth Rudetsky. I doubt anyone who isnt into musicals would be converted by this concert, but for fans of musical theatre, this was a slice of heaven.

Review by Chris Omaweng

Judy Kuhn starred last season as Golde in London in the sold-out production of Fiddler on the Roof at the Menier Chocolate Factory, a role she also played on Broadway in 2016. On Broadway, the four-time Tony Award nominee starred as Helen Bechdel in Fun Home (Tony & Drama League Award nominations) a role she created in the original Public Theater production for which she won the 2014 Lucille Lortell Award. Also on Bway she starred in the Roundabouts hit revival of She Loves Me (Tony nomination); and the original Broadway productions of Chess (Tony & Drama Desk nomination); Les Misrables (Tony & Drama Desk nomination); Rags (Drama Desk nomination); Two Shakespearean Actors (Lincoln Center Theatre), Alan Menken & Tim Rices King David; and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Other select theater includes: The Visit by John Kander, Fred Ebb & Terrence McNally at The Williamstown Theater Festival; Fosca in the much-lauded production of Stephen Sondheim & James Lapines Passion (Drama League Award nomination); the inaugural season of Encores! Off-Center in The Cradle Will Rock; US premiere of Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. In the West End, she starred in Metropolis (Olivier Award nomination). Judy sang the title role in Disneys Pocahontas as well as the in the sequel Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World.

LISTING:Mark Cortale PresentsTHE SETH CONCERT SERIES

JEREMY JORDAN with SETH RUDETSKYSunday, September 13th at 8PM ESTMonday, September 14th at 3PM EST

JUDY KUHN with SETH RUDETSKYSunday, September 20th at 8PM ESTMonday, September 21st at 3PM EST

LILLIAS WHITE with SETH RUDETSKYSunday, October 4th at 8PM ESTMonday, October 5th at 3PM EST

BETH LEAVEL with SETH RUDETSKYSunday, October 11th at 8PM ESTMonday, October 12th at 3PM EST

All tickets available atwww.thesethconcertseries.com

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Judy Kuhn - The Seth Concert Series | Review - London Theatre 1

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