Christiane Noll: Gifts

Live at 54 Below

Performer: Christiane Noll

Distributed By: Broadway Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Thus far, I have mixed emotions about the new Live at 54 Below concert series of albums from Broadway Records.  The first one I tried out wasn't all that enjoyable, but the second one was just what the doctor ordered.  Featuring well-known artists performing a concert in nightclub format, each Live at 54 Below album has a different take on life on Broadway.  I was about to get a new take on growing up on Broadway from Christiane Noll.

            Each of these albums has a theme.  Christiane Noll: Gifts: Live at 54 Below's theme is about the gifts one is given that they chose to pass on to others.  As the performer explains, she grew up in a musical family.  Her father was a musician, conductor and arranger and her mother was a singer.  Growing up as part of a musical family, Christiane learned her way about a theater, music appreciation, performing and more.  The story of Christiane Noll's childhood and teenage years takes up two tracks and features a medley of songs that would influence her early years.  It is in these tracks that we get to experience the range of Noll as a performer.  She moves from opera to Broadway musical favorites with ease. 

            Noll later discusses her parents and their feelings about her pursuit of a career on Broadway.  A funny discussion about her first auditions leads to another medley of songs performed for failed auditions.  As the album moves on, we learn that Christiane Noll had not expected to find love or have a family, putting all thoughts of these things on the backburner while she pursued her career.  However, now that she has both, she sees the wonderful gift of life in her own little girl and an opportunity to pass the gifts of knowledge, love and music she received from her parents on to her own daughter.

            The message of the album is beautiful and the stories are quite humorous, although sometimes, it feels as if Noll is a bit nervous about telling them.  (They come out a tad on the breathless side.)  The songs that accompany Noll's banter, such as Somewhere Out There, Maybe, Some Enchanted Evening and I Want It All are enjoyable, but there are those that seemed a tad outside of Noll's range.  Send in the Clowns, although sweetly done as a song dedicated to her daughter, seemed a tad flat and I wasn't too fond of Mr. Paganini, the encore.

            That being said, I found Christiane Noll: Gifts, the third album I have listened to in the Live at 54 Below concert series to be an enjoyable experience, what with the humorous banter, the meaningful theme and the many well-performed songs.  So far, we are two for three, but as I understand it, there are quite a few more Live at 54 Below albums coming my way.  I'm actually looking forward to them.


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