REVIEW: Seth Concert Series – Jeremy Jordan and Ashley Spencer ✭✭✭✭✭

Julian Eaves reviews the latest offering from The Seth Concert Series featuring Jeremy Jordan and Seth Rudetsky.

Jeremy Jordan
Jeremy Jordan and Ashley Spencer

The Seth Concert Series: with Jeremy Jordan, Ashley Spencer and Seth Rudetsky
Online live Sunday 31st January and repeated Monday 1st February 2021
5 Stars
The Seth Concert Series Website

One of the great things about these ‘do it from home’ concerts with chat is, occasionally, they get beamed from a home with more than one singing occupant. So it proved this time, with a charming couple paying a visit to Seth’s musical theatre emporium.  Jeremy Jordan, smoothly relaxed and warm, began: ‘Almost Like Being In Love’ (from the aptly named, ‘Finian’s Rainbow’, by Burton Lane and Yip Harburg) was a smashing, cocktail-bar-like opener, with the innocent ingenue tones of Ashley Spencer chiming in for the second chorus. Instantly, we were at home in New York City, maybe late at night, sipping something soothing and today’s world, with all its cares, was suddenly a million miles away.

Then, we wandered even further off, into the lush romance of George and Ira Gershwin’s, ‘Embraceable You’, which Ashley sang on the delicate edge of discovering love for the first time, wonderfully preserving the sweet thrill of the moment and yet also giving it a very grounded, modern feel.

Which brought us back to Jeremy, and via some pleasing anecdotes about filming for TV, into Sarah Bareilles, ‘Waitress’, and, ‘She Used To Be Mine’, introducing us to his more contemporary crooner, with some endearing fluting falsetto ornaments floated high above the gruffer, manlier lower register: a performance that perfectly captures the emotionally conflicted situation of this incomparable ballad.

They both came back together for the next number, from, ‘Finding Neverland’ (with songs by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy): ‘My Imagination’ made a delicious duet for them, with some really startling harmonies.  A stunning number, in their hands.  Via an even more wonderful closing cadence from the sing-off entrants this week, we then inched towards ‘Grease’ territory: where John Farrar’s, ‘Hopelessly Devoted’, was a peach in Ashley’s hands.  After this, Jeremy brought us a very idiomatic, ‘Maria’, from ‘West Side Story’ (Bernstein/Sondheim).  And knocked it straight out of the ball-park, and into the heavens…

Which is where we got to Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson’s, ‘You’re All I Need To Get By’, dished out handsomely in duet, with a lilting rock pulse – and additional vocals – from Seth.  A visit to Rudetskyland, however, would not be complete without paying respects to Stephen Schwartz’s own most beloved alternative reality, ‘Wicked’, from which we got Ashley smashing out, ‘When I Meet The Wizard’.

‘Santa Fe’ was another barn-storming number for Jeremy (Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, from ‘Newsies’).  And then we segued marvellously into medley-world for the two of these great troupers to get us all on our feet, clapping along and swaying our hips and waving our hands in the air for a terrific, real ‘showbiz’ grand finale!  Oh, but not forgetting a final blast of ‘Grease’ and reminding us of carefree happy days in, ‘Summer Nights’ (Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey).  With a final finale of another great Stephen Schwartz number, from ‘Rags’, an anthem of optimism: ‘Children’.  Perfect!

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