A few things you can always expect from Patricia Linhart’s faculty recital: an edible treat, a gorgeous gown, and a rollicking good time. Even through the snowpocalypse this weekend, the show must go on – and Ms. Linhart, with her trusty sidekick, Julie Spangler on piano, and a few special guests, presented a glorious cabaret recital, just like she does year after year.
The CCM Musical Theatre class of 2019 rushed onto the stage, singing a familiar tune from WICKED. Then, all of a sudden, in the back of the theater, Pat Linhart appeared, dressed in bubble wrap (with hat to match), and another student carrying a bubble machine while she sang like “Galinda” from the popular musical.
See, what makes this such a must-see, can’t miss event each year, is Linhart’s unique brand of comedy. Her sense of humor is quirky, but accessible. And her voice, seasoned from years of performing – and teaching – is the icing on the cake. As “The Diva,” as she is commonly referred to by everyone who knows her (with tongues firmly planted in cheek) took the stage, the other CCM students, friends, family, and long time fans in attendance went wild.
She thanked us for braving the ice and the cold but I wouldn’t miss this concert. The racy, saxophone-infused “He Ain’t Mr. Right” (with James Bunte on the sax) excited the seniors now seated in the front row. The gender-bending “She Cries” showed off Ms. Linhart’s modern sensibilities (and a brilliant cello performance from Sarah Kim), and “Something Cool,” with its sultry lighting and exquisite piano playing from Spangler, demonstrates the multi-dimensional talents of this vocal instructor.
Then, there was an epic performance of “The Voice,” which Linhart commissioned from Tony Winner Stephen Flaherty (“Ragtime,” “Seussical,” “Once On This Island”) based on a short story by her favorite, Margaret Atwood, that really wowed the audience. There was emotion, a dramatic arc, that commanded attention.
From there, we were delighted by comedic songs like “Another Hundred Lyrics,” a parody of Sondheim’s song from “Company,” and “Air Conditioner” and “Shopping Cart of Love.” Linhart also likes to showcase her current studio’s seniors, and Bryce Baxter, Jenny Mollet, Zack Triska, and Bryn Purvis joined her on a Spangler-arranged version of the Beatles “Good Day Sunshine.”
But for me, well, I think I like the tender side of Linhart best. The affection for which she has for her voice students is evident. She dedicated the finale song, “Sweet Happy Life,” to them. It was as touching to hear performed as it was to watch those same students leap to their feet in admiration for this legendary performer at the end of the concert. Linhart often gets credit – perhaps not enough – for the way CCM sounds; the musical theatre students all get the honor of studying under her during their tenure. I also can’t help but think that her heart influences those same young adults in a profound way.
At one point during the show, she said she wanted to us to imagine we were in a cozy, neighborhood bar just hanging out with her and Julie. That sounds like a really lovely way to spend an afternoon.
THE PAT AND JULIE SHOW is an annual recital at CCM. This spring the musical theatre department will present THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME on the main stage and YEAST NATION in the studio. Click here for more information.