Sherie Rene Scott and Norbert Leo Butz Explore Their Last Few Years With 54 Below Concerts
By Michael Gioia
Sherie Rene Scott and Norbert Leo Butz, who co-starred in the Off-Broadway musical The Last Five Years and Broadway's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, played back-to-back solo concerts, exploring their lives beyond the stage, this weekend at 54 Below. Playbill.com was there.
After 26 years of a healthy vegetarian lifestyle, Sherie Rene Scott began to deal with an internal struggle. "I got hungry," she said, launching into Piece of Meat, her intimate solo show in which she explores the battle with her moral stance and her primal desires.
Scott takes the audience at 54 Below back to the beginning with "Five Years Time" by Noah and the Whales. Through dialogue and song, she explains why she gave up eating meat. Inspired by a magazine photograph of Paul and Linda McCartney, in which Linda was portrayed as a "piece of meat," Scott knew it was time to let go of her base animal desires and adapt a vegetarian lifestyle. She details further with a cover of McCartney's "Another Day."
But Scott — who, at the time, was thriving on and Off-Broadway in shows such as Aida, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Everyday Rapture, The Last Five Years, The Little Mermaid and more — began to realize that she needed to, as she says, live off more than just "Tic Tacs and applause."
"How could I let go of this way of life — of being?" Scott previously told Playbill.com. "How could I contemplate letting go of something that I truly believed in and loved just because of my own physical, animalistic, bodily desires? To eat or not to eat? That is the question."
Enter characters such as the Dalai Lama — whom Scott claims she has a strong personal connection with (from lifestyle choices, ranging from spirituality to conflict over meat eating, to fashion choices, including sporting similar Rolex watches) — and "Gay-for-Pay" former boyfriends as well as moving musical pieces such as Annie Lennox's "Honestly," Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime" and originals "Oh Sean" and "This Is Why We Do This" by music director Todd Almond, who accompanies Scott at the piano.
"As Todd and I worked together, just wanting to put a show together of songs that we loved and enjoyed playing, Todd noticed how much the songs reflected [my struggle]… The songs had a storytelling aspect, and he said how much they reflected this personal struggle that I articulated to him," said Scott.
Throughout the evening, the actress offered witty anecdotes describing her internal conflict, danced on tables — even grabbing an audience member's cocktail for a sip — and brought in a studly male sidekick with a disco ball to accompany her 11 o'clock number.
Scott stood in the back corner of the 54 Below bar as she watched her former co-star and friend — a two-time Tony Award winner for his performances in Catch Me If You Can and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels — talk about the girls in his life. Butz, who is married to former Wicked co-star Michelle Federer, is the father to three girls — Georgia Teresa and two daughters from a previous marriage, Clara and Maggie.
As he related the females in his life to female figures found in Greek mythology and literature — such as Persephone, Aphrodite and Athena — he offered an eclectic mix of covers that ranged from Flaming Lips' "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots," Loretta Lynn's "Mrs. Leroy Brown," Shawn Colvin's "Sunny Came Home," Tom Waits' "Martha" and "Wig in a Box," from Hedwig and the Angry Inch — the musical slated to make its Broadway bow next season with Neil Patrick Harris in the title role.
The Scott-Butz concert crossover only lasted two nights at 54 Below — June 21-22. Scott continues through June 29, and Butz plays an extended engagement through July 19.
(Playbill.com staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)
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