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Linda Eder Wows Colony Theatre Crowd

Two-Night Stint Continues Saturday


Michelle F. Solomon, ATCA, FFCC

Linda Eder kicked off the South Beach Broadway Series Friday at the Colony Theater with a trip down Memory Lane. It's a two-night stint at the Lincoln Road venue, which includes a second show on Saturday night.

On Friday, a three-quarter packed house waited almost 20 minutes for the scheduled 8 p.m. show to start, but before anyone could get too edgy the 5-foot, 10-inch Eder entered wearing black pants and a cream-colored shirt and took command, center stage. She whirled into the first number, which immediately showed off her song styling ability and her broad vocal range. The first trip down Memory Lane was the song from the 1978 film Ice Castles — Melissa Manchester's Through the Eyes of Love.

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She took a break before the second song to mention her excitement of being in Miami and how grateful she was to have left the snow and cold of the Northeast (she lives outside of New York City in Westchester County). The intro led into Ella Fitzgerald's jazzy Blue Skies then a smooth segue into Stormy Weather, the 1933 melancholy ballad by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. The singer's talent was unmatched as she volleyed back and forth on much of the song with the stand-up bass, trading notes to and fro with talented bassist Ed Howard.

Her role of the tragic character Lucy in the musical Jekyll & Hyde, with music composed by her now ex-husband Frank Wildhorn, put her on the Broadway map. No live show by the songstress would be complete without seeing Eder's amazing performance of her signature song Someone Like You. It's become a lover's anthem as was evident in the couple directly in front of me who had to kiss each time Eder sang the chorus.

She continued with another Wildhorn tune from the short-lived Broadway show Wonderland as she sang the fun and upbeat Mad Hatter. While Eder didn't mention it on Friday night, she has spoken publicly about Wildhorn courting her to appear as the Mad Hatter in the show. Obviously, she didn't take him up on the offer and her only Broadway show ever was Jekyll & Hyde.

What a pity.

Other Broadway musicals featured in Eder's Memory Lane included the showstopping song from the musical that the singer said she saw when she was 15 while on a field trip to Minneapolis, Minn., from her hometown of Brainerd, Minn. That show was Evitaand, now at 53, Eder's command of Don't Cry for Me Argentina held the crowd captivated as she swooped into the lower register of the song then climbed to "head voice" to render the more tender notes absolute perfection.

Another high school memory came from her senior year when she appeared in The Sound of Music. Although she wanted the role of Maria, her height garnered her the part of Mother Superior, so for the Colony crowd she rendered Climb Every Mountain, another way to showcase that fantastic "head voice."

She continued to explore more of her own vocal nuance in Les Miserables' I Dreamed a Dream. Eder has a way with taking a song that has been sung so many times and finding ways to pick it apart note by note to make it sound entirely new, rich and uniquely mastered.

Along her road of memories, she shared with the audience that the song Sam You Made the Pants Too Long, a curious ditty and a Barbra Streisand staple, almost "singlehandedly ruined my career." She told the story of a performance nightmare that when she began to sing, she realized the score was five octaves higher than her register. She sang the 1938 novelty song to the Colony crowd in the correct register.

Her jazzy side re-appeared in a wonderful rendition of On The Street Where You Livefrom King and I and Charade, the Mercer-Mancini from the Cary Grant movie. And there was the classic song included to, no doubt, show off her "big belt," At Last, which it did.

A song co-written by Wildhorn that Eder had a limited run on the adult contemporary charts has one of those "wait for it" huge finishes and one of those big notes that practically blew the roof off of the Colony. If you've never heard her sing Vienna, find it on YouTube.

She closed the show (of course, there was an encore) with the rousing Don Quixote from Man of La Mancha.

The Colony audience wanted more and she was happy to oblige with a tribute to one of her idol's Judy Garland. "I wish I could've met Judy," she said, then took her place on a stool next to the piano where her musical director Billy Stein accompanied her for I'm Always Chasing Rainbows and Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It was a fittingly intimate ending to a memorable evening.

To continue the chumminess, Eder, who is producing and releasing her CDs independently without a major record label, told the audience that she would be happy to oblige anyone after the show that wanted a CD signed or anything else autographed. She even told a man in the front row she'd be happy to sign his bare chest.

We didn't stick around to see if Sharpie met chest hair, but Eder was signing CDs and posing for plenty of photos in the Colony lobby.

Producing the Colony Broadway series are Matthew Lombardo and Rick Murray. Lombardo, besides his producing credits, is a New York playwright whose plays High with Kathleen Turner andLooped with Valerie Harper (Harper was to have appeared in Fort Lauderdale in Looped but was replaced due to illness with Stefanie Powers in 2013) were performed at the Parker Playhouse. Murray is the owner of the Crown and Anchor in Provincetown, Mass., which he has re-established as a premier entertainment destination on Cape Cod. He splits his time between Provincetown and Fort Lauderdale.

Billy Porter

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Billy Porter

Betty Buckley continues the series on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 27 and 28. Buckley will be followed by Billy Porter on Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21. Porter scored a Tony Award for his role as “Lola” in “Kinky Boots.”

Subscriptions for the three-concert series are $299, $199, and $99. Single tickets for individual performances are also on sale.

Call (305) 434-7091. www.colonytheatermiamibeach.com, or at the Colony Theater Box Office. The Colony Theater is at 1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach.

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