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Concert Review (LA): Shoshana Bean: Shoshana Sings Streisand at The Ford Amphitheatre

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Shoshana Bean is one of the best singers around and one of the few who can match Barbra Streisand’s range. On June 11, the first night of Gay Pride, Upright Cabaret featured Shoshana Bean at the Ford Theatre in Hollywood. It is the first of three concerts “under the stars” in what they are calling “Wicked Summer Nights at the Ford.” The other concerts will feature Eden Espinosa on July 24th, and the maestro himself, Stephen Schwartz, on August 23rd.

The Upright Cabaret is the brainchild of Chris Isaacson and Shane Scheel. Along with newly appointed Artistic Director, the well-known Billy Porter, they have brought the Los Angeles audience a real treat in presenting Shoshana Bean.

Ms. Bean is known mainly in New York because of her appearances in Godspell (2001) and the original cast of Hairspray, and her starring performance in Wicked. She has also put out a debut album called Superhero.

Her June 11 performance was divided into two parts. The first featured the songs of Barbra Streisand. Streisand, it seems, was a major influence on Shoshana Bean’s career. But though she sings Streisand, she brings her unique interpretation to the songs, which included “Happy Days”, “Brother can You Spare A Dime”, “People”, “Before The Parade Passes By“ from Hello Dolly, and finally “Don’t Rain on My Parade.“ It takes guts to take on this music, but Shoshana sang it with style, wit, and a set of powerful lungs. She was aided by the marvelous musical direction of Gerald Sternbach and a band of major talent.

The second half of the evening featured songs from her debut album, Superhero. A lady I was sitting next to asked me, “Who is that girl?” For Ms. Bean had changed her look and her sound to a wonderful pop style that could challenge even Madonna. She wrote all but two of the songs on the album. The highlight for me was her song about a lost love, “116th (Feat. Mosaic)”. There was a new band for the second half with Matt Cusson as musical director.

Ms. Bean’s singing was magnificent and stirring, always original, heartfelt, and quite funny when needed. She is a major talent and I feel lucky to have been there. Shoshana Bean’s “Shoshana Sings Streisand – A Happening at The Ford” played one night only to an appreciative crowd on June 11 at The Ford Amphitheatre.

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