From Broadway to Las Vegas
April 2, 2012
Dear Rebecca and Philip,
This letter is in grateful appreciation for your amazing concert held on March 11, 2012 at our venue for our new Cabaret venture in Helena, Montana. We are about to complete our first season of five shows.
When we saw you at a showcase at the end of January 2011, we were immediately awe-struck! A powerful presentation in a 12 minute window had our hearts racing as we watched and listened to you perform. We had an immediate reaction – “This duo absolutely MUST perform for our community. They deserve to be heard!” The challenge at the time was that we had nothing planned for a venue, for a concert or for any kind of program as we had no organization in place, having just left behind my association of almost 30 years with another group. However, I told my husband, “We have over a year before they come to Montana, and we’ll find a place and a piano.” And with that statement, we signed an agreement to bring you to Helena with no idea where or how things would fall into place!
A few months went by, and we signed an agreement and returned a deposit, still unsure of how or where we were going to produce a show! Eventually with a lot of effort, passion, a dream and a goal, we created a new endeavor with a name, a rented venue, a series of shows….all built around our first wish to have you perform in Helena, Montana. The brochures were designed and mailed, and patrons began to join our dream….and then the time came just five months before your arrival when we opened our doors to a crowd who was hungry for an evening of entertainment.
There were several hurdles we had to cross to present you within Starz on Stage, mainly locating a piano for the venue! The days went by, and you arrived for your Montana tour. Your zeal for your music was obvious as we laughed and visited over dinner. There was NO ego involved with either of you, and that factor endeared you to us even more, and we were thrilled once more to know that our audience was going to be given a first-rate performance.
The crowd filled up the venue, the excitement brewed, and the piano was in place!! The first notes were played, the first lyrics were sung, and then the magic spread as our audience members watched and listened as you brought everyone into your web of enchantment. There were many times when I almost cried as your delivery was so magical, and watching the two of you, it was clear your musical connection was beyond the norm. As I looked around the crowd, I noticed that people seemed to barely even breathe, and they were almost stopped-in-time. All eyes were on the stage. You had cast a spell, and the patrons were captivated. The evening was a monumental success, and in all the years I’ve been involved in the entertainment business, it has been extremely rare to see people on their feet and applauding in-between songs and before a song was ended. This was one of those rare occasions. When the concert was over, instantly the crowd arose, and the demand was apparent for more, more, more.
The two of you have a very uncommon thread between you as a duo on stage. The evident mutual respect is apparent to your audience and fans. You are not simply a duo – you have created true magic, and I say again….you cast a magical spell on our audience. Your talent as individuals and as a duo are a complete package, and any producer or presenter that is deliberating on whether or not to have you as part of their series or concert offerings needs to simply say… “yes”. To not do so is a disservice to their audience members, and they are cheating their own patrons from a memorable, musical, magical experience that does not come often in our lifetimes. Rebecca and Philip, as the producers of Starz on Stage, we are eternally grateful to you, for taking the chance to come to a Montana conference, and for bringing us true, complete joy with your “From Broadway to Vegas” concert as part of your Montana tour. May you always be safe in your travels, and may you bring your music to the masses all over the world! The people are waiting for you!
With admiration and thankful hearts,
Gary and Joy Novota
Starz on Stage Productions
McPherson Opera House, KS
From Broadway to Las Vegas
March 19, 2011
Dear Fellow Arts Presenters:
The first thing to know about “From Broadway to Las Vegas” is that it is NOT a medley of Broadway’s greatest hits! It is musical theatre; thus the show’s division of Acts I and II. Although tightly scripted the show moves on with marvelous ease and naturalness but always with theatrical flair. Given Rebecca Spencer’s and Philip Fortenberry’s extensive Background in musical theatre, the musicianship is impeccable. Rebecca’s asides between musical numbers take the audience through the stage door for an insider’s look at Broadway.
Rebecca and Philip’s performance at the McPherson Opera House was their maiden voyage with this all new show, and I, as Executive Director, can truly say that “ From Broadway to Las Vegas” is one of the best shows we’ve ever presented. The post-show audience response in conversations with me was exceptionally positive. As Jack Lord used to say on Hawaii Five-O, “book’em Danno.”
John Holecek, Executive Director
McPherson Opera House
BackStage Bistro Bits: Divas and Decadence John Hoglund
Speaking of things that compel, I mean it as the highest praise when I say that newcomer Rebecca Spencer may be the most distracting performer in cabaret. I find it almost impossible to stay in the room with her. Her lilting soprano and subtle shadings, along with amazing musical director Philip Fortenberry’s rhapsodic arrangements, made her two recent shows at Mama Rose’s one of the most impressive debuts I’ve seen in a decade. Every crystal-toned note took the listener on an intensely dreamy journey of discovery. While she is a Broadway veteran (she played Lady Beaconsfield and Guinevere in Jekyll and Hyde) and new to intimate rooms, I predict this golden-voiced lady is going to be a household name in a short time.
Celebrating the release of her beautiful new CD, Wide Awake and Dreaming, which I glowingly reviewed on Jan 2, the SRO house, filled with many theatre folks, cheered her on as if she could do no wrong. They were right. And it doesn’t hurt that she bears a resemblance to Nancy LaMott. A lyric soprano with a plaintive pianissimo that can melt to a whisper, Spencer shined singing songs from her album. The symmetry between her and musical director-arranger Fortenberry couldn’t be better. The show was an example of collaboration at its finest. At times, it all resembled a recital of art songs fused with lighthearted musical comedy. She’s warm, with a delightful presence that lights up the room. Like any newcomer to cabaret making the change from the large stage to an intimate venue, Spencer had to adjust to the confines of cabaret. She did so with ease. Her voice is such that, like LaMott, she could sing the phone book in Gregorian chant and it would work. She has wisely nailed the art of delicate phrasing, turning a simple reading of a fusion of “On My Way to You” (Alan and Marilyn Bergman-Legrand) and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” (Porter) into a masterpiece of passion. Remember the name and do not miss her next show while she’s still affordable.
Cabaret Scenes Magazine Peter Leavey
Of the many extraordinary aspects of Rebecca Spencer's debut cabaret performance, perhaps the most wondrous is that her dazzling showpiece at Mama Rose's, Wide Awake and Dreaming, was indeed her very first on a cabaret stage. Alluring in a black, off-the-shoulder gown, she matched her cover girl looks with talent, making good use of a theater background to infuse her singing with dramatic staging and understanding. She and Philip Fortenberry, her impassioned accompanist and musical director, had more than ample time to polish the arrangements while they cut a CD half a year earlier, but it was more than rehearsals that allowed her to so capture her audience. Spencer has a glorious voice--a soaring, affecting and versatile soprano, equally effective in the lower registers. From opera to Cole Porter, Spencer was in her element. And with tech director Michael Barbieri's imaginative lighting design, the effect was almost magical.
Cabaret Hotline Online Richard Edgcomb and Stephen Hart
Dressed in a stunning black velvet strapless gown with full length gloves, Rebecca Spencer was the epitome of elegance as she took the stage in the Cabaret Room at Odette’s in New Hope one recent Sunday evening. Before a sold out room of friends, acquaintances and those just curious about all the buzz she has generated, Rebecca presented a show to celebrate the release of her debut CD, Wide Awake and Dreaming on LML Music.
Rebecca captured the audience right from the opening notes of the title track. No stranger to the stage, her theatrical background is evident, with appearances including the Broadway production of Jekyll and Hyde. Nonetheless, Rebecca was able to easily transition to a small intimate space with eloquence. She captured the audience’s emotion with her delicate phrasing, dramatic staging and complete understanding of the material. Billed as a “dreamy collection of songs that pick up the listener and carry you away,” the show ranged from soft wistful ballads to more emotionally charged belting songs.
Rebecca’s voice, that of a legitimate lyric soprano, was always in complete control whether she was singing art songs as with “The Willow Song” or Broadway tunes such as “Where I Want to Be” from the musical Chess. Confident and assured, Rebecca Spencer will be seen on the cabaret stage for years to come. She was able to take a Broadway ballad and make it sound almost operatic as she did with “Moonfall” from The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Most impressive was the combination of “On My Way to You” with “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” which was sensitive and moving. While possessing a breathtaking voice, much of her success is due to the glorious accompaniment of Philip Fortenberry. His arrangements for Rebecca are perfect and his piano interpretation is exquisite. I suspect we will be hearing much more in the days and years ahead.
Cabaret Hotline Online Stu Hamstra
Her vocals are glorious and entrancing, and combined with the incredible Philip Fortenberry on piano, this performance is indeed exciting and a delight. This very beautiful performer's chemistry with Mr. Fortenberry is astounding.