One never knows how an episode of The Seth Concert Series will turn out – there have been shows that have drawn heavily on personal experiences, philanthropic activity and some deep societal issues and the steps that people can take to make a difference in the world in which we live. And then there are concerts like this one, where Ashley Spencer goofs around with her husband Jeremy Jordan and their mutual friend Kara Lindsay. While there are some serious moments, if a particular musical number calls for it, or if there’s a story about, say, a production bringing on the understudy mid-performance because Spencer’s voice is too strained to continue, it’s largely the sort of jolly journey best enjoyed by sitting back and appreciating some good laughs and some good music.
Few genres scream ‘escapism’ louder than Disney Corporation princesses, and a beautiful medley, arranged by Benjamin Rauhala, comprised ‘Once Upon A Dream’ from Sleeping Beauty, ‘Part of Your World’ from The Little Mermaid, ‘Belle (Reprise)’ from Beauty and the Beast and ‘I See The Light’ from Tangled. A later medley, for which Spencer teamed up with Lindsay, had to be seen and heard to be believed, merging ‘What Is This Feeling?’ from Wicked, ‘Sisters’ from Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and ‘Nowadays’ from Chicago. Still, it works.
Jeremy Jordan has, of course, had more than one episode of The Seth Concert Series for himself, and largely let his other half engage with musical director Seth Rudetsky and therefore with the audience. Putting Jordan together with Lindsay allowed for a reprise of ‘Something To Believe In’ from Newsies, in which they appeared together on Broadway as Jack Kelly and Katherine Plumber respectively. It wasn’t all Disney, with Spencer’s offerings including a tune from Rock of Ages and a medley from Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical. If that wasn’t versatile enough, she threw in ‘On My Own’ from Les Misérables as well.
Hailing from Ohio, Spencer didn’t see a full-scale theatre production in person until she was an adult. Instead, her family (in particular, her mother) would watch movie musicals – Show Boat, Yankee Doodle Dandy, that sort of thing. There were the usual stories about multiple rounds of auditions and callbacks, not being selected for roles that she really wanted, and experiences that she looks back on and laughs about now but were quite stressful at the time. A brief fit of giggles during a happy moment was entirely forgivable in an otherwise pitch-perfect performance.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Ashley Spencer, Broadway star of Grease, Hairspray and Rock of Ages, with special guests Kara Lindsay, star of Newsies, and Wicked on Broadway and Jeremy Jordan, Tony-nominated star of Newsies and Bonnie & Clyde – in a LIVE CONCERT together with Seth Rudetsky, Sunday, March 28 at 8:00 PM ET, with a one-time rebroadcast on Monday, March 29th 2021.