NEW YORK CITY | What’s the concert about? Love, actually.
“It’s an exploration of love,” says the supremely talented Broadway actor Adam Jacobs (The Lion King), “There are many different types of love, and the concert features a wide array of styles and music from different shows.”
To which Ali Ewoldt, the divinely operatic singer-dancer (West Side Story) adds, “Through songs, we examine love for a child, love for performance in theater, love between two people that we explore in our duets, love and prayers. You don’t want a concert like this to be one-note. For me it is exciting and interesting and innovative.”
New York City’s famous venue Town Hall regularly sees and hears an array of Broadway stars and so-and-so’s on its wide stage. Some of them profess about love even. What’s special about A Heart Full of Love — a one-night-only concert 8 p.m. Saturday February 23 — is the match-up between Adam Jacobs and Ali Ewoldt: the freshness of their talents on vivid display.
Both Ewoldt and Jacobs sport real singing chops. Ewoldt, a petite brunette soprano, can sing beautiful circles around so many of her peers. Jacobs, with his dark eyes and olive skin, takes on vocal challenges that allow him to move from pride rock (Simba in The Lion King) to romantic heights (The Light in the Piazza).
Many of the compositions featured in A Heart Full of Love trade in fresh novelty, too. Where else but here can you hear gorgeous songs from a new musical composed by Filipino-American composer Fabian Obispo (The Long Season)? How else will you sample the works from the rising songwriting team Sam Carner and Derek Gregor (Sing But Don’t Tell and The Island Song)?
About 90 minutes long, performed without an intermission, A Heart Full of Love reunites two alums of Broadway’s Les Misérables (she was the Cosette to his Marius), and for those movie-musical aficionados who could not stand to watch live-singing on film, here is a real live performance where you won’t need to scream a scream as time goes by.
So heartfelt is the stage chemistry between Jacobs and Ewoldt that they were handpicked instantly for this concert after they were seen together at a gala event last year. At a recent photo call at the Ugly Kitchen in the Lower East Side, Jacobs recalls that this Town Hall Concert came about after the two singers were showcased in the 50th anniversary of the Filipino Reporter, a local publication. Within days of that guest appearance last year, the Town Hall was booked for a February stint.
“It’s going to be a fun ride,” Jacobs says. “Our musical director David Dabbon has come up with brilliant mash-ups of popular Broadway pieces. I look forward to performing those songs. Audiences will recognize the tunes but will hear them in a new way.” And the handsome actor, who has also memorably tackled Tony, the love-struck toughie in West Side Story and the Engineer pimp in Miss Saigon, has prepared a specific set of numbers which will show a different side of himself as a performer.
“I will give you a hint,” says Jacobs, who will soon star as the masked legend Zorro in the Alliance Theatre production of the Gipsy Kings-scored musical that will play Atlanta, Georgia, in April. “It is a foray into a ‘new genre.’ I don’t want to give too much away, but it is not music from a specific show. I will foray into another side of myself which I know other people have not seen.” In other words, it teases us into seeing Jacobs anew, had he taken an alternative direction in his career.
Ewoldt relishes the opportunity to extend herself in new ways, too. “Vocally I am doing coloratura stuff that I have not done before. I will do physical comedy things. I will sing a song in Tagalog language, which I have never done professionally before.
Ewoldt also describes a song called “I Won’t Mind” written by Jeff Blumenkrantz as “simple but heartfelt and honest and really gorgeous and emotional.”
Ewoldt then introduces me to composer Sam Carner, who is sitting nearby. Gregor says that A Heart Full of Love gives him a chance to shine through three songs from different shows that he and his songwriting partner Derek Gregor have written.
Adam Jacobs will sing a solo from their new musical comedy Unlock’d, about four star-crossed lovers in 18th century England, which won a Richard Rodgers Award and went on to be produced at the 2007 New York Musical Festival. Unlock’d will premiere Off-Broadway this coming summer with the Prospect Theatre Company at the Duke on 42nd St.
Thanks to the enthusiastic singers from Broadway Barkada who will accompany Ewoldt and Jacobs, A Heart Full of Love will also feature a group number called “So Many Windows” from the Island Song, a new Cartner and Gregor musical that has been in development since 2009 and will receive a workshop in Seattle.
“Ali and I went to college [Yale University] together, but we did not know each other then,” Carner recalls. “We ended up speaking in a panel as alums back in Yale. We chatted for several hours on train trip. I introduced her to my writing partner, and we started working together on various projects.”
The last time Ewoldt and Jacobs sang together on a concert stage was an all-Filipino tribute show for musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim at Lincoln Center in 2011. They sang “One Hand, One Heart” from West Side Story.
What is their takeaway after being paired so frequently? Mutual respect, actually.
“When we were working on Les Miz, it was very easy to fall in love with Ali every night,” Jacobs says. “To share with her an entire concert is a real treat. We’ve performed together before but nothing on this scale.”
To which Ewoldt adds, “I love working with Adam. We’ve become really good friends over the years. This concert is a great challenge for us, a great chance to expand.” — randy gener
Town Hall is located at 143 W. 43rd St. For tickets, specially priced at $20 (originally from $40 to $100), visit www.ticketmaster.com/event/03004973A4EEAAD6.
Conceived by Victor Lirio, A Heart Full of Love will benefit the 3rd The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York (TOFA-NY) Awards, an annual award ceremony that recognizes exemplary Filipino-Americans in the New York tri-State held in October; and the Mindoro Healthcare Consulting’s current research to find a cure for multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.
- Photos: Jacobs, Ewoldt, Team Behind A HEART FULL OF LOVE Concert Meet the Press (broadwayworld.com)
- STAGE TUBE: Sneak Peek – Ali Ewoldt and Adam Jacobs’ A HEART FULL OF LOVE Concert at Town Hall (broadwayworld.com)
- STAGE TUBE: Adam Jacobs, Ali Ewoldt Rehearse for A HEART FULL OF LOVE Concert (broadwayworld.com)
- ‘Les Miserables’ is returning to Broadway. Let’s dream cast it! (popwatch.ew.com)