Rachel York sings up a storm | Bleader

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rachel York sings up a storm

Posted By on 10.02.08 at 01:19 PM

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Some follow-up thoughts on Turn of the Century at the Goodman Theatre, which I reviewed in the Reader's 10/2 issue:

If director Tommy Tune were to dump the dumb script and turn the show into a concert performance for leading lady Rachel York, he might have a hit on his hands. York is one of the finest singers I've seen on any stage. Not only does she have a fabulous voice, she makes an intense and detailed connection to the lyrics--and has a stellar stage presence to boot. The high point of Turn of the Century is York's rendition of the classic "Willow Weep for Me," done in a medley with costar Jeff Daniels, who croons another standard, "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home." York's plaintive delivery in this creatively arranged number recalls the best recordings the young Barbra Streisand made with musical director Peter Matz in the early 1960s.

York got her start on Broadway as Fantine in Les Miserables, then went on to appear in City of Angels. The first time I saw her on a Chicago stage was when she costarred with Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria in 1995 at the Shubert (now Bank of America) Theatre. She played the bimbo girlfriend of a gangster (a role she reprised on Broadway), and just about stole the show with a bawdy list song called "Paris Makes Me Horny" and a raucous chorus-girl tune, "Chicago Illinois." She returned here in 2002 as the female lead in an unfortunate touring revival of Kiss Me, Kate at the Oriental, and last year costarred opposite Michael York in a road company of Camelot at the Bank of America. It's great to have her at the Goodman, a much more intimate venue than the previous ones she's graced here. She makes Turn of the Century worth sitting through.

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