You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Roz Ryan — All About the Music

Moonlighting from her role as prison matron Mama Morton in "Chicago" at Broadway's Ambassador Theater, Roz Ryan spends her Monday nights off doing a cabaret turn at the Opia Supper Club.

Musicians: Shelton Becton, Steve Singer, Wayne Pedzwater.

Moonlighting from her role as prison matron Mama Morton in “Chicago” at Broadway’s Ambassador Theater, Roz Ryan spends her Monday nights off doing a cabaret turn at the Opia Supper Club.

Ryan is a big gal with a big voice. She is a Broadway belter of the first order, blending blues and gospel roots with a richly flavored sense of sophistication and restraint.

Ryan has a grand, blowsy sense of humor and creates a warm bond with her aud. Her focused, well-balanced repertoire includes Stephen Sondheim’s chummy “Old Friends” — bolstered by a sassy bite — and Charles Aznavour’s reflective “Yesterday When I Was Young.”

Composer Billy Strayhorn was only 16 when he penned the words and music to “Lush Life,” the complex reflection of ultimate loneliness. Ryan claims it took her 20 years to figure out what the song meant, and “when I found out, I got rid of my husband!” She plumbs the depths of its dark, probing narrative. She also gets the lyric right for a change, as so often one hears “distant gay traces” instead of the intended, inspired use of “distingue.”

Torching is the order of the evening with the Harold Arlen/Ira Gershwin number “The Man That Got Away.” Ryan quickly redeems the gloom of unrequited love with Cy Coleman’s “The Best Is Yet to Come” before heralding a new look at life with the rhythmic command to take “All of Me.”

The 53-year-old chanteuse is accompanied by pianist-composer Shelton Becton, who has been her musical director for a quarter-century, since they worked together at the legendary theatrical boite Ted Hook’s Backstage. He brings an admirable solidity to Ryan’s performance. However, while drummer Steve Singer is full of good design and flourish, he often overpowers the vocals.

Wind-up is an emotionally charged performance of Patti Austin’s “Love Me by Name,” a knockout finale that brought a cheering capacity aud to their feet. To echo Mama Morton, “Mama’s good for you!”

Roz Ryan -- All About the Music

Opia Supper Club; 100 capacity; $20

Production: Presented inhouse. Opened, reviewed Aug. 15, 2004. Runs through Aug. 30.

Cast: Musicians: Shelton Becton, Steve Singer, Wayne Pedzwater.

More Legit

  • 'Black Super Hero Magic Mama' Review

    L.A. Theater Review: 'Black Super Hero Magic Mama'

    What function do superhero stories play in American society? Are they merely escapist distractions for head-in-the-clouds teens, or could those same formats actually serve a practical function, providing useful tools for everyday life? Recognizing these comic book fantasies as by far the dominant form of contemporary mythmaking for a generation of young people, emerging playwright [...]

  • Danielle Brooks'Ain't Too Proud - The

    How 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Danielle Brooks Became a Broadway Producer

    Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination when she made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple,” but now the “Orange Is the New Black” star is working behind the scenes as a producer on the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” “I [...]

  • Ain't Too Proud review

    Broadway Review: 'Ain't Too Proud'

    In the wake of the long-running “Jersey Boys” and the short-lived “Summer,” director Des McAnuff is back on Broadway with another show built around the song catalog of a music act — and although “Ain’t Too Proud” has all the right sounds and slick moves, this bio-musical of the R&B vocal group the Temptations is [...]

  • 'White Noise' Theater Review: Suzan-Lori Parks

    Off Broadway Review: Daveed Diggs in 'White Noise'

    Any new play by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (“Topdog / Underdog”) demands — and deserves — attention. And in its premiere production at the Public Theater, her latest, “White Noise,” opens with a burst of brainy energy that lasts through the first act. But it takes a nosedive in the sloppy second half, [...]

  • Alexander Dinelaris

    'Jekyll and Hyde' Movie in the Works Based on Broadway Musical

    The Broadway musical “Jekyll and Hyde” is getting the movie treatment from Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris. Dinelaris, who is writing and producing the adaptation, won an Oscar for the “Birdman” script and was a co-producer on “The Revenant.” He is producing “Jekyll and Hyde” as the first project under his New York-based development company, [...]

  • Sam Mendes

    Listen: The 'Balls-Out Theatricality' of Sam Mendes

    If you find yourself directing a Broadway play with a cast so big it includes a goose, two rabbits, more kids than you can count and an actual infant, what do you do? If you’re Sam Mendes, you embrace the “balls-out theatricality” of it all. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “There is a kind [...]

  • James Corden Tony Awards

    James Corden to Host 2019 Tony Awards (EXCLUSIVE)

    James Corden has been tapped to once again host the Tony Awards, Variety has learned exclusively. “The Late Late Show” host previously emceed the annual theater awards show in 2016, and won the Tony for best actor in a play for his performance in “One Man, Two Guvnors” in 2012. “I’m thrilled to be returning to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content