PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: Barrett Wilbert Weed, Lilli Cooper, Jennifer Damiano and More Pick Favorite Taylor Swift Performances

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17 Jul 2014

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift

A Taylor Swift Love Story, featuring the music of Grammy Award winner Taylor Swift, will be held July 22 at 54 Below. In anticipation of the concert, members of the cast and creative team pick their favorite Swift performances as part of this week's Playbill Playlist.

Conceived and directed by playwright Kimberly Belflower, A Taylor Swift Love Story will feature Jennifer Damiano (Next to Normal, Spiderman, Spring Awakening), Barrett Wilbert Weed (Heathers, Bare, Lysistrata Jones), Blake Daniel (Spring Awakening, Hello Again), Andrew Durand (War Horse, The Wild Bride, Spring Awakening), Lilli Cooper (The Threepenny Opera, Spring Awakening, Wicked) and Preston Sadleir (Next to Normal).

Songwriter Joey Contreras (Broadway Dreams Foundation artist in residence) provides music direction for the 9:30 PM concert.

Here's how the evening is billed: "There is no contemporary songwriter more prolific in articulating the highs and lows of young love than Taylor Swift. Her songs – some familiar to all, some lesser-known – span one universal emotional territory. Using selections from all four of Swift's studio albums alongside intermittent spoken-word poetry and narration, A Taylor Swift Love Story will construct a singular, chronological story of young love from beginning to end. Featuring a cast of Broadway performers, the concert will follow a narrative told by some of the theatre community’s most adept young storytellers."

54 Below is located at 254 West 54th Street. There is a $30-$50 cover charge and a $25 food and beverage minimum. Fore more information and tickets, call (646) 476-3551 or visit 54Below.com.

Blake Daniel: "22" (Acoustic "Red" album preview). This video of Taylor Swift singing an acoustic version of "22" to a little living room full of fans! "Red" hadn't come out yet, so they're all hearing it for the first time — their reactions are a sweet treat, and she sounds better than ever.

Andrew Durand: "I Knew You Were Trouble" (Screaming Goats Edition). I don't know much about Miss Swift at all. I do know her song "Trouble." One of my favorite pastimes is watching the screaming goat version on YouTube. I also know that she is very pretty, and she did a Diet Coke commercial.

Barrett Wilbert Weed: "All Too Well" (Live at the 2014 Grammys). I think my favorite video of Taylor is her performance of "All Too Well" at the 2014 Grammys. I always get nervous for her. She's such an honest girl, and I admire how she wears her heart on her sleeve, and I think it's kind of amazing how she's so nervous for such huge events. You know? Like how a normal person would be. And, in this video you can hear how nervous she is, but as the performance goes on, you watch her start to use the energy, and the vocals even out, and then at the end when she's looking right into the camera…it's still so fresh for her. Even though this album has been out for over a year…whomever she's singing about…I kind of hope they end up working out after all because it's pretty clear that even after all this time there's something huge there.

Preston Sadleir: "Happy Birthday" ("Red" Tour in Melbourne). Imagine, if you will, you're on a stage while thousands and thousands of Australians are singing "Happy Birthday" to you. It takes a certain degree of poise, self-confidence and managerial skills to accept that tsunami of adoration.

I mean, I can barely take a compliment on my shoes.

In matters of love, we often talk about how we can express ourselves and display adoration… BUT, Ms. Swift is someone who exemplifies the other side of that coin: one who graciously RECEIVES love.

Have you ever comfortably let someone love you as much as these 16 seconds illustrate?

Put that in your back pocket.

Lilli Cooper: "Red" (Live at the 2013 CMA Awards). Vince Gill and Alison Krauss and an all-star band elevate this stripped, slowed-down version of “Red” to new heights.

Jennifer Damiano: "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (Live at the 2013 Grammys). This is my favorite Taylor Swift performance because revenge is sweet.

Kimberly Belflower: "All Too Well" (Live at the 2014 Grammys). "All Too Well" is my all-time favorite Taylor Swift song, but because it was never a single, I didn't think we'd ever have the treat of seeing it performed live outside of her tours. This performance at the 2014 Grammys gave me everything I wanted and more from a song I have played over 850 times on my iTunes (truly). Production-wise, it's more understated than we often see Taylor at award shows: just a girl at a piano, telling a story. She lets herself be completely vulnerable, and we see every flicker of feeling on her face as she relives the magic and the heartbreak of a past relationship. It's a focused, heartbreaking, powerhouse performance. Also, hair flips have never had more emotional subtext.

Kimberly Belflower: "Fifteen" (Featuring Miley Cyrus – Live at the 2009 Grammys). Baby Taylor and Baby Miley singing "Fifteen" at the Grammys gets me every time…because c'mon. Both of them were only a little bit older than 15 themselves. It's magical. I get choked up every time at the lyric, "Back then I swore I was going to marry him someday, but I realized some bigger dreams of mine" because that is REAL. They are LIVING those dreams. #emotions

Kimberly Belflower: "Fearless" (Journey to Fearless concert special). This was Taylor's first headlining tour, and you can tell it's all so fresh for her. She is so utterly alive and joyful. She's come a long way since these earlier days of sparkly dresses and butterfly projections.

Joey Contreras: "I Knew You Were Trouble" (Live at the AMAs 2012). Tay Tay channels her inner Britney on this elaborate production of a number: Dancers. Costume changes. A remixed track. Basically everything a pop performance should be, and she achieves it with her best awkward sexiness. If anything, watch the last minute. Those accent hits + the pandemonium on stage = T Swizzle Gold.