Everyday Rapture

by Robert Bullen

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday June 7, 2010

Everyday Rapture

Any Broadway fan has known of Sherie Rene Scott since her breakout role as Sally Simpson in the 1993 Broadway production of The Who's Tommy. From there, she's gone on to play some high-profile roles on the Great White Way, including, most recently, Ursula in The Little Mermaid.

She's a "semi, semi, semi star," as she refers to herself in her inventive semi-autobiographical show, Everyday Rapture, which has played throughout New York in various states of development at benefits and off-Broadway houses over the past few years.

And now, in a surprise twist, it recently opened on Broadway to rave reviews as a last minute fill-in for another high-profile show that cancelled at the eleventh hour. (That show was Lips Together, Teeth Apart, which cancelled over a casting dispute.)

In addition, the show opened just in time for the 2010 Tony Awards, earning Ms. Scott two nominations, including Best Actress in a Musical and Best Book of a Musical (she co-wrote it with Dick Scanlan).

The show, which I haven't seen, explores her struggles with embracing her desire to be a performer vs. following her religious upbringing that stresses humility. She cites her gay Judy Garland-loving cousin, who sadly died from AIDS, as a driving force behind helping her find the footing in her quest to fulfill her dreams.

While many of the vignettes she uses to tell her tale are based on truth, they are expanded on to highlight drama and the rapture of self-discovery. My friends who've seen the show describe it as "magical."

The cast album captures the eclectic mix of tunes Scott uses to punctuate and comment on her story - a soundtrack for her life, so to speak. Tunes range from torch songs to gospel-inspired numbers, a bit of soft pop, some folk, and even a number from our favorite children's show, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.

On paper, the set seems almost too random to make sense for the casual listener - such as myself -- who hasn't seen the show. However, what brings it all together is Scott's uncanny ability to sell a song with humor, emotion, and that killer voice. Seriously: the woman can sing anything. And she's supported by backup vocals from Lindsay Mendez and Betsy Wolfe.

This is very much a listening album - any dialogue that may have overlapped or intercut the numbers has been removed. The songs and the performer have been moved center-stage. However, I would have liked a short lead-in to each number - perhaps as a separate track - to provide some context and to highlight the Tony-nominated book. Or at least to give us a better sense of her story.

As presented, it's a pleasant album with some fun tunes showcasing a great performer that, unfortunately, doesn't necessarily capture the magic of her show so many have been raving about.

A native midwesterner, Robert is a self-confessed Chicago theatre addict. You can read more about his addiction at chitheatreaddict.com