- CHARITY BENEFIT
“I miss my life.” That’s the last line in the lyric of “I Miss the Mountains” from Next to Normal. But those were my exact thoughts when I heard Alice Ripley, who received much attention from her award-winning performance in that musical, include and conclude the number in her Friday evening show at the Metropolitan Room. Whatever happened to melody and harmony? Whatever happened to clever lyrics and sophisticated rhyme? I’m sure they must exist and I’m sure I did not hear them at this performance. The show made me think that I must be very old and that I should have been the last person living to be assigned to review this effort. I realized, having a finger in my ear for most of the show, that I have lost the ability to appreciate the sounds of youth. Yet, Miss Ripley has been around a while. Perhaps the older I get, the wider the Gulf of Youth becomes.
Judging by the reactions of the assembled masses, she should be able to walk on water. It appeared that the “young ‘uns” were mostly thirty-somethings. And, they idolize her. I must admit that I thought I was going to see someone else. I mean, I thought Alice Ripley was really someone else.
When she started her show, without her band, she was accompanying herself on a guitar. Her voice appeared to be contrived, creating a sound that one would have come up with for a particularly annoying musical character. Her facial contortions to make the sounds coming out of her mouth were equally annoying. I also thought to myself, “Why would someone accompany herself with an instrument that she isn’t very good at playing?” This did not seem to bother her admirers. They just gazed at her with the kind of affection one shows to an ailing pet on its last breath. Love was there for her and the crowd was eager to show it.
No song list was provided. And, it was impossible for this old person to jot down the musical numbers in the dark. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t have jotted them down anyway as I couldn’t understand most of what she sang.
Her band then joined her and created sounds that were equally contrived. In the latter century of her show, she dismissed her band (thank goodness) and then accompanied herself (OMG!) again. It was at that point I realized that I had seen her on the Broadway stage on several occasions. How was it possible that I had watched almost the entire show and not recognized her for the fine work I have seen her do before?
She sang a few of her more remotely memorable efforts, but retained that strange sound. It was guttural and so loud, given that her mouth was glued to the microphone, that I felt my head would explode. The others in the enthusiastic crowd seemed enchanted.
It leaves me between a rock and a hard place, being put into a position that makes me feel out of touch with the world. There were moments where I began to see how the country is split 47% to 47% with no chance of anyone going to the other side. Logic, understanding, truth do not seem to come into the equation.