Joshua Henry opened his solo concert at the Triad Theater on February 20 singing the words “I’m livin’ my life like it’s golden.” The chorus to Jill Scott’s hit certainly describes Henry’s glowing career on Broadway, as he’s currently starring in the smash revival of Porgy and Bess after coming off a Tony nomination for last season’s The Scottsboro Boys. Even with a featured role in American Idiot in which he had to strip down to his skivvies, Henry is living the high life, which he proved by playing to an adoring crowd who sang along with his set list of soul (and simply soul-touching) songs in an evening titled “Soul Weakness.”
Scott’s good-willed “Golden” kicked off Henry’s jam session, followed by “Actions Speak Louder Than Words.” Clearly striking a nerve with the audience, Henry played “What Would I Do If I Could Feel” from The Wiz to giant cheers. James Brown’s “Get Up Offa That Thing” gave Henry the chance to strut his confident, yet silly, personality on stage, which was received with delighted squeals.
Perhaps the most anticipated moment of the evening was when Henry inevitably performed “Go Back Home” from Scottsboro Boys. His delicate, moving performance earned him his first Tony nomination and to see him perform the number again, after the show ran so briefly on Broadway, was a rare treat. However, in the spirit of tailoring the concert to his liking, Henry performed the John Kander and Fred Ebb song in a mashup with Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
VIDEO: Watch Joshua Henry sing “Go Back Home” and “A Change Is Gonna Come”
Intense struggle is on display in Diane Paulus’ revival (and retooling) of the classic opera Porgy and Bess. Adapted for a more standard evening of Broadway (ahem, running under four hours) by Suzan-Lori Parks and Diedre L. Murray, the production stars Broadway heavyweight Audra McDonald as Bess, a prostitute trying to turn her life around, and Norm Lewis as Porgy, the crippled beggar who gives her the love she needs to do it. The characters of South Carolina’s Catfish Row are destitute and scraping to get by. Bess has to battle the ties to the past she desperately wants to leave behind. And to top it off, there’s a wicked hurricane a-comin’.
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