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Everyday Rapture

Sherie Rene Scott

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Album Review

It's an old saw that, if you're not getting the parts you want as an actor, maybe you should write your own show to star in. Sherie Rene Scott has had a successful career in the musical theater, her Broadway credits including Aida and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (with a Tony nomination for the latter), but by 2009 she had passed the age of 40, no longer easily cast-able in ingenue roles and, in fact, was just coming off a stint as the villainous octopus Ursula in The Little Mermaid. (Unlike such contemporaries as Audra McDonald and Kristen Chenoweth, Scott did not pursue a parallel career in television, preferring to stick to the theater.) It was then she hit upon writing her own show with co-librettist Dick Scanlan and conceived Everyday Rapture, a fictionalized version of her own life, as an Off-Broadway musical. After its six-week run, she tried, unsuccessfully, to interest Broadway producers in a transfer, only to discover, ironically, that she might have made it if she'd taken some TV parts and gotten her name better known. Then, out of the blue, a Broadway theater company had a sudden cancellation and, with a hole in its schedule, called her up. Everyday Rapture opened on Broadway for a limited ten-week run on April 29, 2010. That might not have resulted in a cast recording, but as it happens, Scott and her husband Kurt Deutsch have their own record label, Sh-K-Boom Records, releasing through Ghostlight Records with a manufacturing and distribution deal with Razor & Tie. (Whew!) So, here is the show's music, all of it appropriated from different sources and performed by Scott with her backup singers, Lindsay Mendez and Betsy Wolfe, and it's an eclectic mash-up. Some sense of the show's fanciful plot is suggested, particularly at the outset, as Scott traces the mixed religious (she was raised a Mennonite in Kansas) and show business (she was a Judy Garland fan) elements of her background. This finds her re-creating Garland's Roger Edens-revised version of "You Made Me Love You" from the 1937 film Broadway Melody of 1938 in which a star-struck young Judy wrote a fan letter to "Dear Mr. Gable." The child, Sherie Rene (as Scott's character is called), however, sings the song to Jesus, with Edens' special lyrics rewritten into Biblical references. The dual pull of Christianity and Broadway leads to a performance of Nilsson's "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City," as Sherie Rene heads to the Big Apple and "semi-semi-semi stardom" in the musical theater. Other major influences are Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, with many of its children's songs re-created, and a Rogers lookalike of a sort, David Byrne, two of whose songs from his 2004 album Grown Backwards are used. It's quite a musical mixture, but it all holds together due to the conviction with which Scott sings, whether she's doing "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" or reviving the first post-Diana Ross Supremes hit "Up the Ladder to the Roof" with her backup singers.

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