By Steven Suskin
09 Feb 2014
Sierra Boggess: Awakening, Live at 54 Below [Broadway]
Sierra Boggess — best known locally for her stint as The Little Mermaid on wheels, or more specifically on Heelys — stormed into 54 Below last August and proved to be both entertaining and surprising. Her act, which bore the New Age title Awakening — she is the child of ex-hippies, she tells us — was recorded live and has now been released by Broadway Records.
Boggess starts out in Julie Andrews mode, singing "I Have Confidence" from The Sound of Music, followed by "Lovely" from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Confessing her love for La Boheme, she follows these with a couple of selections mixing the roles of Mimi and Musetta.
Being very much a family person, Boggess' sister Summer is on cello, and she then introduces her 60-year old father, who accompanies her on "Wildflowers" playing a guitar handmade by himself. Boggess then turns, inevitably, to The Little Mermaid and her reactions to her big Broadway break. (She also discusses her subsequent big break as the star of Rebecca, which never made it out of rehearsals. Boggess also appeared in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies, which never made it to New York; and was slated for Hal Prince's Prince of Broadway, which has yet to make it onstage.)
Prince, Lloyd Webber and choreographer Gillian Lynne are discussed in a section about inspiration. (Boggess tells us that it was Lynne who instructed her — while preparing the Las Vegas production of The Phantom of the Opera — to "keep your nipples flying.") This leads to a droll Lloyd Webber medley, with the big hits sung in both pop and operatic styles and revealing Boggess as a very funny singing actress.
She is sentimental, too, in a segment that praises her grandparents with "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes." She also turns passionate while describing her idolization of Barbra Streisand and her opportunity to actually meet the star. Brian Hertz plays the piano and serves as musical director, and the 70 minutes flies by on this delightful CD.