By: Paulanne Simmons
October 2, 2023: Alice Ripley returns to The Green Room 42 with a new cabaret show, “Believe It or Not,” that features her most requested numbers. With John McDaniel at the piano, she sings what she calls “the songs that have brought you Alice Ripley,” but they are also the songs that are most personal.
“I Remember” comes from Stephen Sondheim’s Evening Primrose, but it also reminds Ripley of her dad “whom we lost to Alzheimer’s.” “I Dream a Dream” is from Les Misérables, but it was also her mom’s favorite song.
Having played Violet Hilton in Sideshow, Ripley has been forever confused with Emily Skinner, the actress who played Violet’s conjoined twin. Ripley claims Skinner didn’t mind. But as the middle child of eleven, she’s always had the need to assert herself, which she did most passionately in her renditions of “Who Will Love Me as I Am?”
Because Ripley has had such a long and successful career on Broadway, she had many songs to choose from for her repertoire. There was “Smash the Mirror” from The Who’s Tommy, the show in which she made her 1993 debut as part of the ensemble. There was “As If We Never Said Goodbye” from Sunset Boulevard, in which she played script editor Betty Shaefer. And there was “I Miss the Mountains” from Next to Normal, the show that earned Ripley the Tony for her portrayal of Diana Goodman, a suburban mother with bipolar disorder.
But Ripley is also quite comfortable singing songs made famous by other people: “I’m All I’ve Got” (Liza Minnelli) and “Don’t Rain on My Parade” (Barbra Streisand and now Lea Michele), which she says used to be her audition song.
Ripley has a powerful voice that can also be vulnerable and tender. She can move effortlessly from the chest voice to the head voice, something even the best vocalists struggle with. She knows how to command the stage and still make a personal connection with each member of the audience.
No doubt the title of this show refers to the franchise founded by Robert Ripley, which deals with strange and unusual events. There’s nothing strange or unusual in this show. But there’s a lot that’s quite wonderful.
Believe It or Not, at The Green Room 42, 570 10th Ave., Sept.30.