Monday, April 30, 2007

Voices that Give Me Hope and Faith and Strength: Lauren Pritchard

Does anyone want to check out Lauren Pritchard's performance on May 22 at Ars Nova with me? (where my friend Jillian works!! )

Lauren Pritchard is only 18 years old. She has an intoxicating voice that is currently being featured in the musical Spring Awakening, in Duncan Sheik's incredible score for that show. Yeah, that Duncan Sheik. He of "Barely Breathing" a little over 10 years ago, who I barely took notice of back then. I *loved* Spring Awakening -- no, not because of the probably unnecessary teen nudity, but because of Duncan Sheik's songwriting - and because of the way voices like Lauren Pritchard's delivered those poignant songs (and hers was probably the stand-out among several excellent voices, despite her part in the show being relatively small). Duncan Sheik's songs and Lauren Pritchard & others' voices gave Spring Awakening a depth, complexity and organic trueness that is rare in the musical form. It helped A LOT that in this musical, the characters don't talk to each other via song -- the songs instead emerge from inner dialogues, reflecting what's going on in their own heads. Seems like such a small thing, but few (if any?) other musicals use songs in this way. And it's so much more natural...
Beyond transforming the musical genre, while I haven't read Frank Wedekind's original play, I also imagine that this music may have also completely transformed what was very possibly quite average material, in terms of content. Well, perhaps it was the addition of the outstanding score, plus Bill T. Jones' choreography (more interesting movement than typical "Broadway" dance numbers), and very innovative direction by Michael Mayer.

Anyway, Lauren Pritchard wanted to be a singer-songwriter before she wanted to be a Broadway star. And she just might be able to use her exposure from Spring Awakening as a launching pad for broader success in music, beyond musical theater. I hope she succeeds. It's hard not to compare her to Joss Stone -- another big, soulful/smoky, astoundingly young, white, female voice. The thing that continually disappoints me about Joss Stone is her songwriting -- it's her voice, not her writing, that is her strength. The problem is that a great song depends as much (if not more) on the writing as it does on the voice or the musicianship. I fear Lauren Pritchard may run into the same trouble, but I have more hope for the future in her case. Though not as good as the Sheik-provided stuff in Spring Awakening, the songs on her myspace page show potential. I haven't listened to them enough to want to lay down judgment, but check them out.

Also, YouTube of her singing Spring Awakening stuff:
1. "Don't Do Sadness/Blue Wind" duet with John Gallagher, Jr. - she comes in a little after the 2 min. mark
2. Singing "Left Behind" at a concert-type performance - w/ Duncan Sheik on guitar

1 comment:

arik said...

Alas, I will not be in NYC that night... But keep those reccomendations coming - I'll be in town from late July till late August.

Anyway, I took your recommendation and we are going to see Spring Awakening from the stage itself no less. Yup, I got myself some of those dirty cheap On-Stage seats (cheap is a relative term, of course, these could still buy me theater tickets and dinner here in Minnie). You don't get the perfect sound, but it should be an interesting experience. In any case, this is as close as I'll ever get to a Broadway stage...