By Edward Kliszus
Billed as An Audacious Cabaret, a marvelous performance was delivered by Felicia Finley in Backwoods to Broadway at Manhattan’s Green Room 42. This live performance was also presented in a live-streamed format.
The exciting and captivating Felicia Finley ascended to the stage to perform a sentimental, biographical musical journey that began with her childhood in the Appalachia of South Carolina and evolved to New York, Broadway, stage, and film.
Speaking with her charming southern mountain inflections, Finley explained that she was the first of her generation to get out of the back woods. In fact, “she grew up between red dirt and skyscrapers…just like Patsy Cline. Her path to Broadway began with farming, gospel, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, family, and singing for the Bird sisters who lived next door.
Finley warmed up the crowd with Reba McEntire’s All the Woman I Am and segued into Patsy Cline’s Come on In (And Make Yourself at Home).
Finley experienced more than her share of hard knocks before appearing on the Broadway stage. After successfully auditioning for ‘Annie’ on Broadway, the show closed. She then trained to become a champion Olympic-level baton twirler just before the Olympic committee decided not to adopt baton twirling. She performed at the World’s Fair in Australia in 1988 until the United States exhibit closed due to international politics.
Setbacks drew Finley back to her gospel roots, inspiring her to sing Just a Closer Walk With Thee.
Finley charmed her audience with more songs describing her life, values, wisdom, and climb to fame. The songs made perfect sense with titles like Things a Man Ought to Know, Crazy, Don’t Cry for Me, Dancing Queen, and the beautiful ballad from ‘Jekyll and Hyde,’ Someone Like You.
Never giving up, Finley worked hard and followed her aspirations, attending the Louisiana School of Performing Arts before moving to Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan. She made her Broadway debut in ‘Smokey Joe’s Café’ before being cast as April in the original Broadway production of Cy Coleman’s ‘The Life,’ earning a TONY nomination for Best Musical.
Finley went on to appear in Broadway’s ‘Aida’ and ‘Mamma Mia!’ and landed roles in films and television shows. As an established, prominent figure in musical theater, Finley’s awards include New York’s Bistro Award for Best Cabaret, the Drama League’s Most Distinguished Performer, NJ’s Best Actress, and The Ensemblist Award for Songbird.
Her powerful voice was matched only by Finley’s commanding stage presence. She demonstrated a magnetic energy that electrified the audience. Finley’s versatility was remarkable. Whether singing beloved country, gospel classics, or show-stopping Broadway tunes, she brought her unique flair to each song. She drew smiles, applause, admiration, and tears from her audience.
After sharing her dad’s wisdom with the phrase “You can’t put a price on peace of mind,” Finley finished with a tribute to Patsy Cline, Sweet Dreams of You. Inspired, delightful, marvelous. Don’t miss Felicia Finley when she’s in town!
Felicia Finley in Backwoods to Broadway
Music Director and Pianist Michael McBride
Directed by Joanne Zielinksi
The Green Room 42
YOTEL New York Times Square
570 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036
For tickets and info, go to thegreenroom42
The Green Room 42 is an exciting, friendly, affordable venue for great music and entertainment. The club requires no minimum for drinks and food (a rarity in Manhattan cabarets and nightclubs), and you can order using a barcode on the café light or with a server.
Readers may also enjoy reading Divina: A Fantasy Cabaret with Regina Gibson, Seth Sikes, Jenn Colella: Out and Proud, Amanda McBroom at Birdland, Natalie Douglas, Vanessa Williams, and Mary Stallings at Smoke.