On Sept. 9 at 9:30 PM (the time Lindsay Mendez usually takes flight as Elphaba four blocks down at Broadway's Gershwin Theatre) the actress — on her night off from starring in Wicked, yet still dressed in emerald green — took the stage with collaborator, friend and music director Marco Paguia for their jazz concert debut at Manhattan nightclub 54 Below.
Mendez and Paguia, accompanied by Chris Tordini on bass and Tommy Crane on drums, opened the evening with their cover of John Legend's "Ordinary People," a staple for the duo and the first track off their debut album "This Time," which was released earlier this year.
"We are vocal on a Monday!" Mendez told the audience at 54 Below — which featured Dogfight songwriters and Tony Award nominees Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Wicked co-star Katie Rose Clarke and Tony-nominated director Michael Greif, among others — in response to the overwhelming applause, before briefing the crowd on how she first crossed paths with Paguia.
The two met in 2010 when Mendez played a Mennonette alongside Betsy Wolfe in Sherie Rene Scott's Everyday Rapture. Paguia served as musical director, conductor and piano player on the production. After the two hit it off, they began to compile a song list of tunes they wanted to reinvent with a jazz and R&B flair.
Mendez confessed that the next tune, a Queen cover of "I Want to Break Free," was a song that she and Paguia have recently been experimenting with. The evening at 54 Below offered a combination of old favorites that the two have recorded and performed in previous concerts at Birdland, Joe's Pub, Lincoln Center and more, as well as new material they've recently explored in the rehearsal room.
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