I’m starting to become less sad about being a Broadway person who lives in DC instead of New York. On Valentine’s Day, acclaimed singer and actress Jessica Vosk performed a night of love and relationship-themed songs. This is not Vosk’s first time in DC — when she went on tour with Wicked, DC critics raved about her Kennedy Center appearance as the titular wicked witch. Vosk was loved so much by fans and critics that she was chosen to perform the role on Broadway during Wicked’s 15th anniversary. She’s popular.
Vosk has an impressive Broadway resume: she also performed in the 2015 Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, the 2014 Broadway adaptation of Bridges of Madison County, the 2015 Broadway run of Finding Neverland, the Grammy-nominated San Francisco Symphony live recording of West Side Story, where she sang the role of Anita, and the Lincoln Center’s 50th-anniversary concert of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, where she played the Narrator. Now, Vosk is on tour, making her first stop in DC — and at DC’s Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. Apparently, this venue was also Adele’s first stop on her first concert tour, too.
While watching Vosk living her dream up there on stage and completely captivating the room, one couldn’t help but wonder why she hasn’t been crowned the Idina Menzel of today’s Broadway. Why is she not in more shows? Seriously! I have been in the audience of multiple concerts recently showcasing solo Broadway vocalists and their repertoire of vocal abilities, and I have to say, Vosk takes the cake. Her range, vocal control, and even most of her between-song comic storytelling are all entertaining. Somehow, across the concerts I’ve seen, the latter has seemingly been the hardest for performers to do well.
This concert, entitled A Broadway Valentine, included a broad range of songs that were not entirely Valentine’s-focused, which makes sense given that Vosk is on tour. Starting off with “Let Me Entertain You” from Gypsy, this concert program was an ideal portfolio for Vosk to show off the vocal and emotional range in her toolbelt. She didn’t overuse vibrato or pop-star vocal riffs and nailed the emotional beats of Streisand power ballads like “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and exploratory pieces that put fierce internal debate to music like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” in equal measure.
Some of her strongest numbers combined the power ballad approach and emotional exploration: her “I Will Always Love You” cover was one of the most heartwrenching of the night. Her ability to tell stories — a skill Broadway has most likely helped her hone — through excellent vocals as well as physical performance, dynamic changes, and facial expressions makes her singing so much more immersive. Her “Over the Rainbow” cover at the conclusion of the show, introduced with honors to Judy Garland and an acknowledgment of the challenges of the last few years, brought a tear to my and my plus-one’s eyes.
Vosk controlled her dynamics to maximum emotional impact with the help of her stellar piano accompanist and music director, Michael O. Mitchell. She has a rich voice that can hit a Broadway belt as well as a low croon. Her backup singer Marissa Rosen, who has also accompanied Kristen Chenoweth, Betty Buckl, and Ariana DeBose, among others, was consistently a perfect background vocalist. Her voice shined both as a supplement and main event: the one piece she was given to sing on her own, “Son of a Preacher Man,” was in fact one of the most technically excellent and crowd-pleasing numbers of the night.
If anything could be pointed out about the night, sometimes Vosk’s commentary, particularly in the between-song portions of the first half of the show, occasionally became tiresome. The commentary freshened when it focused less on Vosk’s resume and more on entertaining stories she had about her decorated time in showbiz. While being even ironically self-aggrandizing about her own accomplishments got old pretty fast, Vosk’s tales of stage mishaps in Fiddler on the Roof and audition anxiety amidst the Rockettes worked wonderfully.
If you get a chance to listen to Vosk’s work, her singing voice is stunningly beautiful — she is a profoundly skilled storyteller and artist, and I implore you to tune in.
Running Time: Approximately one hour and 45 minutes, no intermission
Judith Vost: A Broadway Valentine played February 14, 2023, presented by Washington Performing Arts performing at Sixth & I, 600 I Street NW, Washington, DC.
15 Questions in 15 Minutes with Broadway’s Jessica Vosk (interview by Deb Miller, January 24, 2023)