By Ed Kliszus
It was a wonderful evening with Josie de Guzman at the Green Room 42. Two-time Tony Award nominee Josie de Guzman performed her show “Back Where I Started,” enthralling listeners at The Green Room 42. The enchanting and vivacious de Guzman performed a musical biopic of her remarkable stage career. She spoke of the many fellow luminaries with whom she performed and collaborated. The amazing list includes Leonard Bernstein, Nathan Lane, Arthur Laurents, Jerome Robbins, Alan Jay Lerner, and Burton Lane, to name a few. Tonight was the place to be! I saw actor/comedian Richard Kind and Screenwriter/Producer Judith Roberts in the audience. There may have also been a sighting of Charles Kirsch Theater Podcaster extraordinaire. De Guzman’s nephew, John de Guzman, was there and even came to the stage to join her in a song.
De Guzman’s charming descriptions of her career highlights and experiences were personal, intuitive, stirring, and sentimental. She captivated her audience as she described the ups and downs of a theater artist. Through her stories, we sensed the intensity of auditions, the pitfalls of being an understudy and jumping into a lead part at the last moment, and the stressors accompanying a career in theater.
Tugged at Hearts
She also showed her humor, wit, and versatility, singing songs like “Boom Chicka Boom” from Nick and Nora. The audience hooted as she sang “Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun” and practically jumped to their feet to join her when she sang and danced songs in Spanish. She tugged at hearts as she sang” One More Walk Around the Garden” from Carmelina.
Each anecdote revealed the inside world of the theater most can only imagine. Each story gently segued to de Guzman singing and frequently dancing through a delightful song that captivated, moved, and touched her audience. Sighs, affirmations, and applause were generously returned to the chanteuse as she shared her life through song, story, and dance.
Moments of Her Life and Career
De Guzman possesses a vast repertoire and can sing songs from her roles in many productions like West Side Story, Runaways, Guys and Dolls, Carmelina, and Nick and Nora. However, tonight, she shared music that is clearly important to her and best represents her aspirations, hopes, and moments in her life and career.
Romance and Hope
Consider the romance and hope of tonight’s songs like “Something’s Coming” and “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story. Imagine the emotional pressures of auditions and the aptness of “I’m Calm, I’m Calm” from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Can one really say NO when asked to sing the silly, hilarious “Boom Chicka Boom” from Nick and Nora?
“If I Were a Bell” from Guys and Dolls lent even more insights into de Guzman’s outlook on life. It’s cozy, romantic, optimistic, and droll. Here is a sampling of the lyrics:
Ask me how do I feelAsk me now that we’re cosy and clingin’ Well, sir, all I can say Is if I were a bell, I’d be ringin’ From the moment we kissed tonight That’s the way I’ve just gotta behave Boy, if I were a lamp, I’d light Or if I were a banner, I’d wave
The Green Room 42 theatre is a marvelous venue for an artist like Josie de Guzman. The seating was comfortable, the menu was excellent, the sound and lighting on stage were managed well, and the wait staff were attentive and discrete during the performance. Noticeably fine piano, bass, and drum work as well. The evening ended with a rooftop reception to meet Josie de Guzman.
Runtime: About 75 minutes
Josie de Guzman performs “Back Where I Started”
Starring Josie de Guzman
Directed by Gerard Alessandrini
Larry Yurman – Musical direction and piano
Paul Schutler, Bass
Joe Nero, Drums
The Green Room 42
570 Tenth Avenue at 42nd Street
On the 4th Floor of Yotel)
New York, NY 10036