Rufus Wainwright, idiosyncratic pop songwriter with a devoted following among many theatre folk, will get a special salute October 1 in New York City, with a concert of his songs performed by like likes of Tony winner Alice Ripley, Taylor Trensch, Nicholas Barasch, and others.
Ben Rimalower, creator of the club show Patti Issues, will emcee the event, which is scheduled for 7 PM at Feinstein’s/54 Below supper club. Rimalower explained to Playbill the composer’s appeal. “Rufus Wainwright is unique among voices of the generation known for being disaffected in that he’s also a romantic. At his best, the comparisons to Noël and Cole [Coward and Porter] are apt, if those masters had been“—quoting a Wainwright lyric from “Poses”—“‘drunk and wearing flip-flops on Fifth Avenue.’"
Wainwright’s songs include “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk,” “Hallelujah,” “Vibrate,” “Oh What a World,” “Beautiful Child,” in addition to “Poses.” He recently performed a salute to Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall and is currently writing an opera.
Rimalower said the concert won’t have a theme other than the composer himself, but added, “the cast's attraction to specific songs has revealed some powerfully universal themes in the lyrics.”
They will be performed by Ripley (Side Show, Next to Normal), Trensch (Hello, Dolly!, upcoming replacement for Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen), Nicholas Barasch (She Loves Me), and Andy Mientus (Spring Awakening), plus Dave Thomas Brown (American Psycho), Wesley Taylor (Rock of Ages), Kacie Sheik (Hair), Clarke Thorell (Hairspray), Krystina Alabado (American Idiot, American Psycho), and Gerard Canonico (Groundhog Day).
Wainwright’s former keyboard player Jason Hart (music director of American Psycho on Broadway) will perform that job for this concert.
Though Rimalower won’t be performing personally, he identified several Wainwright songs that he said had special meaning for him: “The aforementioned drunk flip-flops song, ‘Poses,’ from Rufus's eponymous 2001 sophomore album. [It] finds poetry in what it meant to be young and carefree and full of ennui in New York City in the early 2000s.” “Go Or Go Ahead” (from Want One, 2003) is “according to Rufus inspired by his decision to go into recovery from drugs. As a sober person, I relate, but I think the lyric and the swell of the melody really captures the fight against inertia we all face. Sort of an emo take on Sondheim's ‘Move On.’" And “Going To A Town” (from Release the Stars, 2007) which was written “as a Bush-era requiem for the progress and prosperity of the 1990s. It resonates even more pointedly now.”
Feinstein’s/54 Below is located at 254 West 54th Street in Manhattan. There is a $35–$45 cover charge and $25 food/drink minimum. Tickets can be ordered at 54Below.com.
Alice Ripley was a special guest performer on two of Playbill’s Broadway on the High Seas cruises. Cabins are available for Broadway on the Danube River with Michael Feinstein for November 3–13, 2017, also featuring Rachel Bay Jones, Julia Murney, Christopher Fitzgerald, Marc Kudisch, Christopher Sieber, Brandon Uranowitz, and Seth Rudetsky, as well as other exciting talent to be announced.
Tickets are also now on sale for Playbill’s Broadway on the High Seas July 2018 cruise to Iceland, accompanied by Judy Kuhn, Christine Ebersole, Rob McClure, Jarrod Spector, Carmen Cusack, and Sierra Boggess. Visit PlaybillTravel.com for booking and information.