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Faith Prince
Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota

Also see Bill's review of The Columnist

A Separate Peace
Faith Prince
Artists Series Concerts of Sarasota presented Faith Prince in concert on February 16 and 17, 2013, making her Sarasota debut. She was assisted by the estimable Alex Rybeck at the Grand and helping out in "Suddenly Seymour."

Ms. Prince is an engaging performer; warm and winsome are two adjectives that describe her demeanor. I have seen her in her award winning performance as Adelaide in the 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls and in a touring company of Billy Elliot, so I'm not a Faith Prince virgin. I have always enjoyed her work, she is the kind of performer that in times gone by would have been starring in musicals written just for her unique personality and charm or taking over roles after a bigger star performer had left a long run, much as Delores Gray did for Ethel Merman. But we do not have the Broadway economy of the 1950s and '60s—now every musical aims for a 10 year run, minimum, and characters are written so they can be played by whoever comes along with the ability to do so, quirkiness and a strong persona be damned. Could Mary Martin or Ethel Merman sustain a big career today? If Faith Prince can't thrive in the Broadway economy of today, perhaps someone can mount major revivals of star vehicle musicals like Bells are Ringing and Little Me, shows she has already done, outside of New York.

What she presented here was a stroll through her career, how she toiled to get to Broadway and what she did once she did get there. A highlight for me was her rendition of Maltby & Shire's "Crossword Puzzle" which she made very much her own. Other performers have come across as very angry on that song, making me understand why Hecky, the lover who left her for someone else, did so. Ms. Prince created a character who, while super smart ("A phi beta cappa ... that's me"), was also someone I could warm to. Other special moments were the opening ("Broadway Baby" and introducing "Adelaide's Lament") and Mary Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim's "The Boy From." Less wonderful was "Young Man with a Horn" incorporated into a story about her husband, a trumpet player, where she had difficulty with some pitches, blue notes. I am aware that I am getting deafer and deafer as time rolls by, but I had difficulty hearing some of her patter; perhaps the sound levels were just a bit lower than they should have been. At the end of the evening, Ms. Prince kindly made mention of all the technical people who had helped to bring us this event, naming first names. Along with her frequent praise of Mr. Rybeck, who is always a top tier partner, this consideration showed me a performer I might enjoy sharing a drink with.

Artists Series Concerts of Sarasota will be offering an evening of Highlights from Operetta May 12 and 13, 2013. Thank you to them for bringing Faith Prince to our area.

Faith Prince, presented February 16 and 17, 2013, by Artists Series Concerts of Sarasota, at The Historic Asolo Theater, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida. Box Office 941 306-1201. For more information, please visit www.artistseries.net.

--William S. Oser



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