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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

F3Stage Streaming Review: Shoshana Bean spreads soulful holiday cheer in Sing Your Hallelujah

Film Flam Flummox

While the entirety of the entertainment industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, no sector has perhaps been more adversely affected than those who primarily work in live theater.  But, to adapt the overused adage, the show must somehow go on, and Broadway fan favorite and recording artist Shoshana Bean and a few of her fellow performers return to the stage--no less than that at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem--to deliver some much-needed end-of-2020 cheer to audiences around the globe by doing what they do best in the joyous holiday season concert Sing Your Hallelujah.

In many ways, Sing Your Hallelujah is a throwback to one of those music star-centered Christmas season specials that would pop up on network television with greater frequency in years past, and that's definitely a compliment.  It goes without saying that Bean's powerhouse pipes are up to the daunting task of filling every corner of a cavernous, virtually empty Apollo with whatever is on the musical docket, from rafter-raisers such as "O Holy Night" to more intimate tunes like "Mary Did You Know" and the original title song.  Also as in those yuletides of yesteryear, the headliner is joined on a few numbers by other singers: fellow Broadway veterans Gavin Creel, Shayna Steele, and Bean's former Waitress co-star Jeremy Jordan; and Britain's Got Talent alumna Connie Talbot.  In a welcome move to honor the variety of different talents that grace stages in New York and elsewhere, there are a pair of non-singing guests, Jared Grimes, tap dancer extraordinaire; and actor Daniel J. Watts, who performs a spoken word piece. But regardless of how special the guest, and how much each does, indeed, shine, perhaps even more than her spectacular voice, Bean's welcoming warmth holds together and drives these 85 minutes.

Director Amy Segal does not fill all of that run time with performance, including a fair amount of behind-the-scenes footage of Bean and her creative team planning and assembling the show.  While that may be a common indulgence in specials such as this, what is hardly common is the unique period in time in which everyone has been living since March. Thus, Sing Your Hallelujah is lent an added weight and dimension as a document of this most precarious moment in all live performers' lives, particularly as the current state limbo has no clear end in immediate sight.  If this runs counter to the more intentionally timeless feel of the on-stage concert footage, it provides a valuable insight into not only Bean's personal attitude and story during the pandemic, but into the general quandaries of any performer right now: not just the practical question of how, but also the most existential one of should, one go forward and give something back to the world right now by doing what they know and love the best.

Obviously, Bean decided to go forward, and in so doing she and Segal have not only made a film that achieves its obvious goals of celebrating all live performing artists and creating and spreading joy and love at the end of a most tumultuous year, but also a much deserved celebration of those far too unsung behind-the-scenes artisans and technicians without whom all the productions and experiences we enjoy and cherish would have never been possible. Perhaps even more than Bean and the wealth of talent that takes the stage, that is for whom you will want to sing your hallelujah by the end of this beautiful, beautifully mounted show.

Shoshana Bean's Sing Your Hallelujah is now streaming on demand through Saturday, January 2, at

(Special thanks to The Press Room)

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