Regional Reviews: Phoenix
Eva Noblezada with Seth Rudetsky
Also see Gil's review of The Gods of Comedy
The concert got off on a high note with Noblezada's fast paced delivery of "Don't Rain on My Parade" from Funny Girl, which was thrilling. She said that she was nervous to sing that song so she wanted to get it out of the way by performing it first, but you'd never know from her perfect control of the material that she was anxious or worried about singing it.
When Seth asked about her family and her experience before she was cast in Miss Saigon, Noblezada said her dad is Filipino and her mother is Mexican American and she spoke about learning to play the piano when she was 14. Her first big role in high school was playing Maria in West Side Story. Seth had her sing the "high school song" since they were talking about her school years so she sang a warm version of the upbeat, funny and fast "I'd Rather Be Me" from Mean Girls.
She talked about being discovered New York casting director Tara Rubin when she was chosen to be a finalist for North Carolina at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (the Jimmy Awards) in 2013. Rubin got her an audition with Cameron Macintosh for the revival of Miss Saigon and Eva talked about having a working session with the show's director to get ready for the audition and that when she was offered the role, she at first thought it was for the understudy to the lead. It wasn't until her manager met her in a Panera Bread in Charlotte, North Carolina to present the contract that she realized it was for the starring role. Her group coach at the Jimmy Awards was Liz Callaway and her delivery of an arrangement that Liz did of "Moon River" was romantic and simply lovely.
Since she has performed in Miss Saigon and Hadestown in both London and New York, Rudetsky asked her if she noticed any differences between the audiences. She said London audiences don't show their emotions as much as New York audiences. While the concert featured many showtunes, Noblezada's delivery of Amy Winehouse's "Love Is a Losing Game" showed she is also a keen interpreter of sultry, emotionally rich pop tunes.
Rudetsky asked what role she wanted to play when turns 40, and she said she wants to be the first female Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera. She then sang a flawless rendition of the affecting "She Used to be Mine" from Waitress, which Seth said she would have to wait until she was about 35 to play. Asked how she's able to conjure such deep emotions like the ones in that song, being so young, and what she basis it on, she said. "Young people also feel pain. When you're older you have life experiences so you know that there is something better. When you're younger, all you can do is be sad. Which is why teen depression is so high. Their parents may know that they'll snap out of it but for the teens that sadness is all they know." For the emotion she needed to depict in Miss Saigon of a mother doing whatever is neccessary to save her child she added, "You take what you know. I have two younger siblings. I don't know what it's like to be a mother but I know what it's like to have tendencies of protection."
Her quick-witted humor and self-deprecating sense got many laughs throughout the show, including when she shared two funny stories from her time in Miss Saigon. The first was about a performance in which the young boy who played her son in the show had to pee urgently at the very end of the show, so she pulled him close to her and after her final lyric when she knew her microphone was off, she said "go ahead, do it." Not only did he pee his pants but because she was holding him close to her at that moment in the show, he peed on her as well. Another time, just after that moment in the show, when her character dies, the lights came up early when she was starting to walk off the stage to get ready for the curtain call, so she gasped and pretended to die again.
Seth joined her on a duet from Miss Saigon, "The Last Night of the World," which gave us a glimpse into her powerful, Tony nominated performance. Throughout the show, the repartee between Eva and Seth was fun, even to the point that he called her out for using a British word since she wasn't British when she mentioned, after doing Miss Saigon, she "cheekily" told Cameron Macintosh "I want to be Eponine next." Her delivery of "On My Own" from that show was impeccably sung.
Concerning Hadestown, she said when she first heard the music she had the "need" to be in the show and talked about how they were trying hard to make the show "perfect" and that, once they tweaked the character of Orpheus between the London and Broadway run, everything fell into place. She then sang a beautiful solo version of the love duet from that show, "All I've Ever Known." This was followed by a lovely pairing of two well-known romantic tunes, "They Say It's Wonderful" and "Smile," before Eva presented a soaring version of "Journey to the Past" from Anastasia, which ended the concert on a high note.
For 90 minutes, Eva Noblezada entertained the Scottsdale audience with her personal stories and impeccable vocals. The Scottsdale Center for the Arts venue has excellent site lines from every seat and some of the clearest sound design of any concert venue in town. Next up in the Seth Rudetsky concert series is his show with Jeremy Jordan on February 19.
Eva Noblezada with Seth Rudetsky performed at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on January 21, 2022. Information for upcoming concerts at the SCPA can be found at www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org.