Entertainment Theater

‘Melissa Etheridge: My Window’ Evaluate: Musings on Life and Music

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In 1979, when Melissa Etheridge was an aspiring rock star on the point of go away Leavenworth, Kan., for music faculty in Boston, she obtained a 12-string guitar. Her father made a macramé strap for it — a sturdy, intricate piece of knot work that was a conveyable memento of his love.

“And that is it,” his Grammy Award-winning daughter mentioned throughout her Broadway present, turning round to provide everybody a view of the strap that held up her instrument.

It was a captivating second, and in our high-definition, multi-screen world, refreshingly analog: simply Etheridge, life-size and in three dimensions, sharing the room with us.

Share it she does, beautifully, in “Melissa Etheridge: My Window,” which opened Thursday at Circle within the Sq. Theater, only one block east of the place an earlier model of the present ran Off Broadway final fall. On Broadway, this rock live performance spliced with memoir has gained a hanging intimacy, as if Etheridge had shrunk an enviornment to slot in the palm of her hand.

A stage stretches throughout one finish of the house, ground seats and a middle aisle are the place the theater’s thrust stage would normally be, and a tiny satellite tv for pc stage sits behind them. Circle within the Sq. by no means struck me as a heat, embracing theater, however Etheridge makes it one, paying swish, diligent consideration to each part of the 726-seat viewers, and infrequently coming down off the stage to sing and stroll.

Written by Etheridge along with her spouse, Linda Wallem Etheridge, and directed as soon as once more by Amy Tinkham, this musically attractive, narratively bumpy present begins with Etheridge’s hit “Just like the Approach I Do,” ends with “Come to My Window” and suits 15 husky-voiced songs in between, together with a trippily comical “Twisted Off to Paradise,” an arrestingly lovely “Speaking to My Angel” and a winking ode to her present gig, “On Broadway.” (Sound design is by Shannon Slaton.)

On a set by Bruce Rodgers whose spareness serves the complexity of Olivia Sebesky’s projections, it is a visually slick manufacturing, with ample jewel tones in Abigail Rosen Holmes’s saturated rock-show lighting, and Etheridge wanting glamorous in costumes by Andrea Lauer.

The present is shorter, extra polished and extra assured than it was Off Broadway — although Etheridge nonetheless appears undefended when she doesn’t have a guitar strapped throughout her or a piano in entrance of her. She additionally doesn’t converse memorized traces however relatively tells variations of tales mapped out within the script. It’s a sound strategy that typically leaves her fumbling for phrases.

Kate Owens performs the small, clowning position of the Roadie, a personality whom the viewers loves however who I want would desist from upstaging Etheridge with antics.

Etheridge herself may be very humorous, and he or she is aware of deal with a crowd. Similar to when she obtained to the purpose in her life story when she fell for a lady who was married to a film star — “a for actual, for actual film star,” she added, for emphasis.

“Who?” a voice referred to as out, not that the efficiency is supposed to be interactive.

“Look it up,” Etheridge mentioned, shrugging it off.

In contrast to her lately revealed memoir “Speaking to My Angels,” which opens with a recollection of “a heroic dose of hashish” that modified her understanding of herself and the universe, “My Window” proceeds chronologically, beginning with Etheridge’s beginning. (Projections present child Missy with fabulous hair.) So the speak of what Etheridge calls “plant drugs” comes later.

This can be a ardour of hers, so it belongs in a present about her. However the efficiency devolves into speechifying each time it comes up, besides when it morphs into an enactment of experiencing an altered state — which, regardless of some vividly kinetic projections, might be as tiresome to look at onstage as it will be off.

Surprisingly, essentially the most starkly highly effective a part of the present Off Broadway — Etheridge recounting the loss of life of her son Beckett, at age 21, in 2020 — works much less nicely on Broadway.

I can’t fault Etheridge for her stiffness in that delicate part on the efficiency I noticed, or for reaching for phrases — like her blunt evaluation, “He was tough” — to convey her reminiscences. However that is the place counting on the script’s gentler, extra contextual language might assuage what have to be a horrible vulnerability.

Logistics additionally undercut that scene. Whereas Etheridge speaks from the massive stage and the auditorium is plunged in darkness, a guitar is positioned on the satellite tv for pc stage by a technician who crosses in entrance of many individuals. No distraction ought to break the connection between Etheridge and her viewers in that second.

She is, all through “My Window,” a marvel with that viewers.

Again when her fame was rising, she instructed us in Act II, she began enjoying arenas and stadiums.

“1000’s and hundreds of individuals,” she mentioned, “and the humorous factor is, the extra individuals there have been, the additional away y’all obtained.”

On Broadway, they’re close to sufficient once more for her to commune with. And so she does.

Melissa Etheridge: My Window
By way of Nov. 19 at Circle within the Sq. Theater, Manhattan; melissaetheridge.com. Operating time: 2 hours half-hour.