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The Seth Concert Series – Kerry Butler | Review

It’s still Christmas at the time of writing (and will remain so until Twelfth Night, whatever the grinches and Scrooges say). Kerry Butler still has her Christmas decorations up, and combined with the festive video filters turned on at the appropriate moments in this online concert, it’s difficult not to break into a smile. The songs in the concert were either festive, or otherwise taken from musical theatre. Butler has done some television work over the years, including an appearance in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and, many years before that, Sesame Street. None of that got a look in, with so many Broadway and regional theatre experiences to talk about.

Kerry Butler
Kerry Butler

What set this particular episode apart from some of the others in The Seth Concert Series was the relative obscurity of some of the song choices, such that musical director Seth Rudetsky gave more context to the songs than he usually would, the knowledgeable online audience already being familiar with musical theatre standards. Butler seemed to take the challenges of being in the entertainment industry in her stride – she was, for instance, not long married when doing a run in Toronto, and there have been many times over the years when she and her husband, puppeteer and actor Joey Mazzarino, found themselves apart by way of geographical inconvenience.

Mazzarino put in a sparkling performance, complete with a puppet, called Chicky Bawk Bawk, and Rudetsky took on various characters in different duets with Butler. Taken together, it all demonstrated quite how much of a team effort a theatre show is, in every respect. Butler enjoys ‘originating’ roles as much as taking on established roles – she went from being the original Belle in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast to playing Eponine in the Broadway production of Les Misérables.

Quite a few of the anecdotes were amusing, if sometimes laced with the cruelty of life. When she was a schoolgirl her family landline received a voicemail saying she was successful in securing a place in a production of Annie as one of the orphans. Butler’s family was, understandably, overjoyed. This was almost immediately followed by a second voicemail, with apologies that the casting department had dialled an incorrect number. Oof.

It was interesting to hear music from shows I’d not come across before – including Bat Boy, which had a (fairly short) run at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2004, and Beetlejuice, which hasn’t made its way to the West End just yet. Butler emotes extremely well whilst singing, as though slipping straight back into character. Overall, a highly pleasant and cheerful ninety minutes.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Kerry Butler (performing December 27) most recently played Barbara in Beetlejuice on Broadway. Previously she was nominated for an Outer Critics Award playing three characters in Mean Girls. She was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Xanadu. Other Broadway credits include Belle in Beauty and the Beast (Dora nomination), Disaster!, Catch Me If You Can, (Drama Desk nomination) Sherrie in Rock of Ages, Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, (Outer Critics nomination). Kerry won the Clarence Derwent Award as Penny Pingleton in the original cast of Hairspray, Eponine in Les Miserable, Blood Brothers, and The Best Man. On television she has appeared on 30 Rock, The Mindy Project, Rescue Me, Law and Order, Elementary, Mysteries of Laura, White Collar, Blue Bloods, One Life to Live, and The Gilmore Girls reunion for Netflix. She can be seen in the film The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Her album “Faith Trust and Pixie Dust” is available on iTunes.

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