While the Mennonite folk Sherie Rene Scott left behind and refers to in her new musical Everyday Rapture may still be waiting for the title’s religious occurrence, the blonde, long-limbed, angel-voiced diva is the embodiment of that rapture at the American Airlines Theatre. Her musical co written with her director Dick Scanlan is a captivating delight.
After a successful run last year at Second Stage-only a block away Rapture faded from sight. But when Terrence McNally’s Lips Together, Teeth Apart was abruptly cancelled, Roundabout chose Scott’s shrewd dissection of discovering your voice, while breaking through for the replacement, letting one of Broadway’s brassiest belters rule the stage.
One might fear transferring her cheeky ode, chronicling her unlikely journey from Topeka, Kansas to the Great White Way, from a 299-seat house to a nearly 800 seat theater would deflate the charms of Scott, but quite contra the evening is utterly enchanting. In her own words, “Broadway’s biggest semi-star” is here to tell you, “The world was created for me.” Backed by a sassy pair of backup singers (Lindsay Mendez and Betsy Wolfe), Scott makes the point perfectly clear that the stage is her world. She recounts her days of entertaining mental patients back home to the strains of Judy Garland (her personal hero, next to Jesus), to her arrival in Times Square (with a stopover at TKTS-whose name she hilariously mangles) with subsequent tales of her magician boyfriend. A hilarious segment details her rash attempt to connect via the internet to an affected teen boy (Eamon Foley), who lip-syncs one of her most famous performances on YouTube, that of Amneris in Aida, where she wowed crowds with her vibrant number “My Strongest Suit”.
Armed with her “world was created for me” motto along with the polarizing I am “a speck of dust,” Scott coyly blends real-life events with some fractious bending of the truth in a style similar to Martin Short’s underrated Fame Becomes Me years back. After attempts at overly earnest confessional solo shows, Scott’s performance in Rapture is ironically funny with a weighty appeal that makes for a surprisingly fresh tonic. What was a tad acidic last May has now taken on a more contemplative ardor in this new production, expertly helmed by director Michael Mayer (American Idiot) and beautifully lit by ace designer Kevin Adams (Passing Strange). The orchestrations by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) deftly turns U2’s “Elevation” into a girl-group number and great tunes by Tom Waits and David Byrne into elegant ballads, delivered with heart-rending gusto by Scott, who has never put her pipes to such full-bodied use.
For a woman who was “searching, searching, searching for a way to be one with God while a lot of other people clapped”, all one can say is: mission accomplished. Sherie Rene Scott’s star quality may be “semi” to her, but it positively glows to all the rest of us for 90 rapturous minutes. – Jason Clark
Everyday Rapture is now playing at the American Airlines Theatre, 227 West 42nd St between Broadway and 8th Ave, through July 11. Running time: 1 hour and 30 minutes, no intermission. For tickets call 212-719-1300 or visit http://www.roundabouttheatre