I’ve been reviewing theatre for almost three years now for www.talkentertainment.com and I’m always looking to discover someone who I think has the talent to become a star. This past Saturday at the Hilton Hotel I did.
The press release for Janice Martin’s show “A Gershwin Fantasy” reads: “A world class concert violinist, pianist, opera singer who does comedy, dance, gymnastics, trapeze, pop singing, martial arts and plays many other instruments such as guitar and trumpet. She is also an expert marksman with a rifle.” As a reviewer I thought twice about all this. Especially the “expert marksman” business. What if I didn’t like her, would she track me down? How could a woman possess so many talents and be an unknown entity that didn’t ring any bells whatsoever.
So, at the invitation of Robert Blume, I traipsed off to the Hilton Hotel this past Saturday afternoon just as the flakes began to fall to what I thought would be a 45 minute segment of the 90 minute full course concert of “A Gershwin Fantasy”. Little did I know that it was part of a huge convention of the Association of Arts Presenters and Producers – where all kinds of acts are seen to be sold and booked across America and beyond. Somewhat like auditions for “America’s Got Talent”.
In the Beekman Parlor I sat while the fifteen members of the Gershwin Showcase Orchestra settled in. No trapeze in sight. The conductor, Anthony LaGruth lifted his baton and began a thrilling Gershwin overture that sounded great. What followed is how I discovered a rising new star – Janice Martin.
She is blonde, petite and confidant. She started with the violin. Very good. Played the piano. Very very good. Then started singing “Summertime”. I was swept away by the sheer beauty and power of her voice. Where was it coming from? Starting out legit she then jazzed it up. What a terrific arrangement. She continued to wow the audience. An amazing vocal of “The Man I Love” segued into her playing the violin which takes the song into some high Celtic magical place and comes back again to Ira’s great lyric. Another fresh and exciting arrangement – courtesy of Bob Goldstone and David Bixler.
Her range is incredible. When she sits down quietly with her guitar to sing “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” you will be entranced, get a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye. Checking my notes, I wrote “It doesn’t get much better than this.” Janice Martin does not need a trapeze or a shotgun. She has what it takes to be a star without them.
Changing tone midway through she does a duet with herself dressed in a very clever two sided costume. She sings “”Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” as a sophisticated snobbish opera singer and a street wise cracker (exploring her Tracy Ullman inner child). It is unexpectedly hysterical.
All of this is surpassed by her passionate rendition of “Rhapsody in Blue” where all three talents shine through like lasers and get the audience standing to praise her performance. Have I made myself clear? Have I mentioned Janice Martin’s name enough times for you to remember it? Will you be anticipating her appearances? You can start with her web site –
www.janicemartin.com. Just remember, I told you so.