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Norm Lewis LIVE In Concert with Seth Rudetsky | Review

Norm Lewis
Norm Lewis

Norm Lewis is the sort of name that one hears about fairly regularly in the world of musical theatre, and London audiences may recall his stint as Inspector Javert in the West End production of Les Misérables, as well as his performance in that show’s twenty-fifth-anniversary concert at The O2 Arena. But I didn’t know much more about him beyond that and him being the first black actor to take on the title role in the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera. No surprise, then, that ‘Stars’ and ‘Music of the Night’ was in the line-up, but then so was ‘Bring Him Home’, ostensibly because much of the free-flowing conversation between Lewis and Seth Rudetsky was, perhaps expectedly, about Lewis’ stage career, with various anecdotes about auditions for shows and mishaps on stage – the sort of detail that makes a live concert of this nature worth witnessing. A negligible point, but a little more could have been said about what Lewis gets up to when he’s not on stage or preparing to audition. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with staying on topic.

There’s an ease and calm reassurance whenever he sings, whether it’s a jazz version of ‘Wouldn’t It Be Loverly’ from My Fair Lady – fortunately or unfortunately with the Eliza Doolittle accent unattempted – or the famous Gershwin brothers’ tune ‘I Got Rhythm’. A tune from outside musical theatre stood out for me, however – ‘We Live On Borrowed Time’, by David Friedman, seemed very apt for the uncertain era that is 2020, with lyrics like “There was a time when I was sure my future was secure” and “Yesterday is past, tomorrow seems a million miles away”.

Lewis and Rudetsky go back a long way (at least as far back as 1989) and the camaraderie was palpable. Both make seemingly light work of vocals and keys respectively, and the many cheery recollections of better times also helped to provide a much-needed boost to those of us who continue to wait patiently for theatres to reopen fully again. There was a feeling of hope and positivity in this concert. Or, as Les Misérables puts it, “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise”.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Norm Lewis was recently seen in the NBC television special, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert!, alongside John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Alice Cooper. He recently appeared in the Broadway revival of Once on This Island and as Sweeney Todd in the Off-Broadway production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Barrow Street Theatre, receiving the AUDELCO Award for his performance. In May of 2014, he made history as The Phantom of the Opera’s first African American Phantom on Broadway. He has been seen on PBS in the Live From Lincoln Center productions of Showboat with Vanessa Williams, Norm Lewis: Who Am I?, and New Year’s Eve: A Gershwin Celebration with Diane Reeves, as well as American Voices with Renée Fleming and the PBS Special First You Dream – The Music of Kander & Ebb.

On television, Norm Lewis can be seen recurring in the VH1 series, Daytime Divas, also alongside Vanessa Williams. His additional television credits include Chicago Med, Gotham, The Blacklist, and Blue Bloods, as well as in his recurring role as Senator Edison Davis on the hit drama Scandal. Mr. Lewis received Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle award nominations for his performance as Porgy in the Broadway production of The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess. Other Broadway credits include Sondheim on Sondheim, The Little Mermaid, Les Misérables, Chicago, Amour, The Wild Party, Side Show, Miss Saigon, and The Who’s Tommy. In London’s West End he has appeared as Javert in Les Misérables and Les Misérables: The 25th Anniversary Concert, which aired on PBS. Off-Broadway Mr. Lewis has performed in Dessa Rose (Drama Desk nomination, AUDELCO Award), Shakespeare in the Park’s The Tempest, The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Drama League nomination), Captains Courageous, and A New Brain. His regional credits include Porgy in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (A.R.T.), Ragtime, Dreamgirls (with Jennifer Holliday), First You Dream, Sweeney Todd, and The Fantasticks. On film Mr. Lewis can be seen in the newly released drama, Magnum Opus, and has appeared in Winter’s Tale, Sex and the City 2, Confidences, and Preaching to the Choir.

https://thesethconcertseries.com/

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