I can’t imagine more perfect casting: Laurelia Durocher playing Linda Ronstadt.
Over the years, I’ve been advised to see the Camelot’s short-run “Spotlights” as concerts rather than as theatre pieces, with the lead performer making no conscious attempt to embody the showcased star. Though never my preference, for the most part, this has worked out fine.
But this production is notably different. Durocher makes every attempt to nail the versatile rock star/jazz singer. (She goes so far as to wear brown contact lenses to help create the singer’s doe-eyed look.) And in nearly every way my eye and ear could detect, she succeeds. For confirmation during intermission, my playgoing partner and I pulled up a YouTube video on the I-phone of Ronstadt performing “You’re No Good.” While Durocher’s dance movements may not have been quite as loose and free, the vocal styling, attitude and personality were apiece.
And, with ample support from the company’s consummately attentive five-piece band, the covers of Ronstadt’s rock and roll hits were uncanny.
Though Durocher could certainly have made this work entirely as a solo—she’s simply that gifted—the production was enriched and enlivened by the contribution of her longtime musical partner David Gabriel, who served as narrator and co-vocalist.
Though the script, tracking Ronstadt’s eclectic career, wasn’t all that sparkling, Gabriel’s inherent charm and ease, coupled with a self-deprecating sense of humor, provided ample compensation. And his vocal work, when harmonizing from his unlit stage-left podium or in full voice during the couple’s center-stage duets, was extraordinary and well-tested during a pair of operatic numbers from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance,” which Ronstadt starred in on Broadway.
Credit director Presila Quinby for a show that shifts seamlessly from a first act dominated by rock and roll (starting with her stint as lead singer for the Stone Ponies) to a second act that draws mostly from the jazz and pop standards that were so elegantly arranged for Ronstadt by Nelson Riddle and augmented here by the superb and sophisticated work by the band’s Peter Spring on both flute and saxophone.
Like nearly all of the company’s Spotlights, the Ronstadt show plays for only two weekends. I wish the run could be extended. See it if you can through Sept. 23.
(For this review, I credit my play going partner Clista Prelle-Tworek for her insights and artist’s perspective. Please see one example of her work below and find more on her website: http://www.clistaspastels.com/. You can view and purchase a few of her paintings on display at the Rogue Gallery in Medford.
As a Realtor in Ashland and Southern Oregon, I want to thank you in advance for your business and your referrals. What could be better than working with someone who shares your love of theatre? Call me at 541-778-8949.