"Normally the 'American Songbook' features a great Broadway-centric canon dating between the '20s and the '60s. But we're not doing that. We're paying tribute and celebrating about nine decades worth (of music) dating far back to people like Gershwin, Berlin, Lerner and Loewe, and The Sherman Brothers; and moving forward to people like Stephen Schwartz, David Foster, Bruno Mars -- he's American; he belongs here," Salonga mentioned in her opening spiel.
For 75 minutes without intermission, the accomplished singer, actress, directed by real-life best friend Victor Lirio ("Two Rooms," "Suites by Sondheim"), delightedly engaged her audience (which erupts in occasional cheers during Salonga's relaxed, naturally-delivered spiels) in an intimate concert in three acts, made up of (1) old Broadway classics rearranged as jazz by Larry Yurman, Salonga's long-time musical director and pianist; (2) contemporary pop music that culminated in a surprise pop rock rendition of recording artist Bruno Mars' "Grenade"; and (3) a sampling of animated movie songs and musical theater gems that included the New York premiere performance of "Higher," written by Jay Kuo, composer, lyricist, and co-author of the Broadway-bound musical "Allegiance."
Lincoln Center's "American Songbook" concert series plays 14 more nights at The Allen Room featuring a diverse set of artists, which includes country music singer Kathy Mattea (Wed, Feb. 27); cabaret singer Valerie Simpson (tonight, Jan . 31); and Broadway favorites Kristin Chenoweth (Fri, Feb. 15), Alice Ripley, Brian d'Arcy James, and Idina Menzel, performing songs by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, multi-award-winning duo behind "Next to Normal" (Fri., Mar. 1).
For more information, visit americansongbook.org.