Last week I had the opportunity to see Norm Lewis perform at Kodak Hall, and he was pretty fantastic. That guy can sing! You were probably expecting that, though, if you know anything about Norm Lewis. He’s basically a Broadway superstar- he’s been in practically any show that comes to mind when you think of Broadway classics. Les Mis? Yup. Phantom of the Opera? Yup. Porgy and Bess? Yup. He gets around!
His show at Eastman included highlights from many of the musicals he’s been in. My personal favorites were the huge show stopping numbers like “Music of the Night” from Phantom and “Bring Him Home” from Les Mis. His rendition of “Bring Him Home” was particularly moving, as he prefaced it with a story about a fellow cast member who died young in an accident. I may have been a little misty-eyed by the end of that one, if I’m being honest. Norm’s voice filled up the whole theatre; it was clear that every audience member was listening raptly.
Norm was a very personable performer. He loved interacting with the audience and included lengthy anecdotes between each song. At the beginning of the night, he mentioned reading the local paper and seeing we “had a lot going on,” then referenced catching himself on Scandal while watching TV in his hotel room. This was the start of a long night of humblebrags. We heard all about his friendship with Audra McDonald, that time he went to a house party at the White House, and how he got to meet Barack Obama. I suppose humblebrags are warranted when you’re as talented and experienced in show business as Norm Lewis is.
Things did get a little weird, though, when he performed a Marvin Gaye number and interspersed his passionate singing with yells of “ISIS!” and “Black Lives Matter!” My boyfriend and I looked at each other in total shock and confusion. Never have I ever been to a concert at Eastman where I’ve heard a musician scream “ISIS” in the middle of a performance! I totally get artists standing up for what they believe in during turbulent political times. The song was called “What’s Going On,” and while it is super important to discuss what’s going on, especially in 2017, this seemed like a bizarre, jarring, and superficial way to approach the topic. I wanted to yell back to him, “Dude! You’re just saying names and phrases!” Yelling nouns is not a particularly effective way of engaging in political discourse.
Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable evening and I’m glad we got to see this talented man bring down the house! Just thinking back on the night, I’m getting some serious feels thinking about his rendition of “Bring Him Home.”
Now, you may recall that the Eastman Presents concert series was on my list of 7 Things I’m Psyched About in 2017. There are three shows remaining in the series, and up next is Garrison Keillor. Apparently I’m out of the loop on the whole Garrison Keillor thing; I’ve heard he’s pretty amazing, and I’m excited to see him when he comes to town on February 17th!
Even more exciting for YOU, is that I’m doing another ticket giveaway! Love the idea of seeing Garrison Keillor IRL? Comment below telling me why you want to see him. Winner receives a pair of tickets to the show on 2/17! I’ll announce the winner on Friday, February 10th.
Best of luck to all!