Live at 54 Below
Performer: Sierra Boggess
Distributed By: Broadway Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Best known for her performance as Ariel in the Broadway musical version of The Little Mermaid, Sierra Boggess is a soprano who has performed on and off Broadway in such well-known musicals as Les MisÚrables, The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, West Side Story, The Pirates of Penzance and more. In December 2013, Broadway Records released Awakening: Live at 54 Below, a recording of Sierra Boggess' performance and the dinner theater.
All of the Live at 54 Below albums have contained performances centered around themes and Awakening is no exception. Sierra Boggess chose inspirations as her theme, taking inspiration as it were from a book she just read by Wayne Dyer. Having reviewed the original cast recording of The Little Mermaid, I already knew that Boggess had a great voice, but who knew she was so funny.
Boggess' monologue is light and comedic, especially when she is discussing inspiration found in nature. When discussing the various creatures one can find in New York City apartments - rats, roaches, etc. - one might get offended, but that innocence of delivery and the fact that real New Yorkers know exactly what Boggess is talking about allows the listener to laugh right along with the artist. Other inspirations discussed include Barbara Streisand (I loved that Boggess acted as nervous as any other fan would when meeting Streisand), opera, her grandparents, nature, herself and her father, in which she not only discusses what her father means to her, but brings him up on stage with his handmade guitar to perform with her. Apparently, musical talent runs in the Boggess family. Not only does her father perform fairly well on guitar, but Sierra's sister, Summer, also accompanies her on stage, performing the cello.
Boggess is a talented singer whether performing opera as in Quando M'en Vo or Donde Lieta, a country song like Wildflowers, a funny and powerful number from The Sound of Music like I Have Confidence, the R&B classic Smoke Gets in Your Eyes or Disney classics like Part of Your World or A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes. Her voice is incredibly versatile and adapts well to every genre and style. But she also has great comedic timing and delivery. In addition to the funny moments in her monologue, Boggess also delights the audience with her comedic talent by performing various Andrew Lloyd Webber songs in styles that would simply never work for them, invoking her inner Britney Spears and adding an opera style to his more pop-like tracks.
Awakenings is a happy edition to the Live at 54 Below series which has had its ups and downs since inception. Sierra Boggess proves to be a down-to-earth person with incredible talent and this, her first solo album, is definitely one that any fan of Broadway should check out. It's certainly worth the listen.