Entertainment :: Music

In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Tuesday Oct 1, 2013
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"In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention: Live at 54Below" is one of the longest titles of a recording, yet it’s the perfect way to become acquainted with Broadway and television notable Laura Benanti. The lovely soprano adoringly shows the many faces of her talents in front of the live audience, while warmly and humorously welcoming those listening to the audio to come in and join the fun.

Since beginning her career as Maria in "The Sound of Music" with Richard Chamberlain, Benanti has continued to gain notice for her Broadway work, subsequently starring as Cinderella in "Into the Woods" and as Gypsy Rose Lee in the Patti Lupone-helmed revival of "Gypsy." Her recent appearance in the short-lived "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," earned her a Drama Desk award and a Tony nomination. In recent years, Benanti has made the jump to television, having appeared in "The Playboy Club" and "Go On." Their blips on the small screen made Benanti fodder for a Neil Patrick Harris sendup on this year’s Tony Awards about stage actors who have had their television shows canceled.

Benanti appears to be a good sport about her television flops, and her 54Below appearance is a delight, enjoying the singer at her most comfortable level. The one-hour set, under the music direction of Todd Almond, is a wonderful mix of oldies ("On The Street Where You Live," "My Time of Day"), old pop stories (Joni Mitchell, Harry Chapin), and hits from her latest roles ("Unusual Way" from "Nine" and the hysterically funny "Model Behavior" from "Women...").

There is also a well-represented set of original songs, both by the songstress and by Almond. They give a courteous look at the two’s writing talents, with the exception of the adorable "The Ukulele Song," which Benanti gives the tongue-in-cheek treatment, and makes solid contact.

Her patter is engaging, especially when she addresses the takeover of belters in musical theater today. This recording is a must for her fans, and highly recommended for those seeking an introduction to one of today’s up-and-coming performers.

"In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention: Live at 54Below"
Laura Benanti
CD and digital formats
Broadway Records

by Laura Benanti

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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