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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at American Airlines Theatre


  Sherie Rene Scott/ Ph: Caroll Rosegg

Self-proclaimed semi-star Sherie Rene Scott graduates to an even bigger spotlight as her semi-autobiographical semi-musical about her spiritual and show-business journey moves to the Great White Way. And for this eager Kansas expat, there’s no place like Broadway.

From the beginning, Scott sets up the two impulses at war within her, citing an ancient sage of indeterminate origin who tells her she’s a speck of dust – but also that the world was created for her. Growing up half Mennonite, Scott was taught to blend in, not stand out. Even when she and her cousin Jerome lip-synch to Judy Garland, they’re well aware that it’s Jesus they’re really supposed to be imitating. Still, even when she’s trying to be meek, Scott can’t hide her histrionics, as her torrid rendition of “You Made Me Love You” to a montage of romantic images of Jesus makes embarrassingly evident.

She even brings a show-biz swagger to the gentle tunes celebrating acceptance and diversity that get her through adolescence in her sensational medley from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. But as her story moves on toward semi-stardom, Scott keeps her persona humble, emphasizing the human highlights of her life – her first trip to New York, her first lover, explaining four-leaf clovers to her three year old. Even when she does reprise the show-stopping “My Strongest Suit,” from the Disney musical Aida, it’s in the ego-deflating but brilliantly staged context of an email exchange she has with a young lip-synching fan (Eamon Foley) who doesn’t believe that she’s really the Sherie Rene Scott – or why would she be writing to him?

Supported by two charismatic backup singers (Lindsay Mendez and Betsy Wolfe) and a versatile band, Scott maintains her stance as a wide-eyed ingénue throughout the show. While you’d expect the naiveté to cloy once she’s past the childhood years, in fact it’s endearing and effective in highlighting Scott’s conflict. What’s more, her let’s-put-on-a-show girlishness accentuates the superb control she exercises over her voice, whether she’s channeling Judy Garland or Rickie Lee Jones. The musical selections – ranging from movie classes like On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe to a wistful version of Harry Nilsson’s “I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City” to a driving “Up the Ladder to the Roof” – are eclectic but support Scott’s story, often more aptly than numbers composed specifically for other Broadway musicals in their own shows.

Written by Scott and Dick Scanlan (Thoroughly Modern Millie) and deftly directed by Michael Mayer, the show’s not only charming; it’s focused, frequently funny and always intelligent. Its trajectory may be perfectly geared for an audience of New Yorkers, who, as the old saw has it, all hail from somewhere else and can sympathize with Scott’s struggles to leave her childhood home behind for a Manhattan she’s lucky enough to find even more magical than most. Sure, the evening showcases Scott’s humility, but with a wry awareness that everyone’s in on the joke, Scott included. And if that modesty sometimes rings more falsely than it’s intended to, well, her star quality is never in doubt.


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