Liz McKendry andLove and Pain and The Whole Damn Thing
In the dimly lit, velvety royal blue dressed Metropolitan Room, Liz McKendry revisited a jazz club inspired era of cabaret with her performance inLove & Pain & The Whole Damn Thing. She did not prance around in a black leotard and high kick into the air while singing show tunes, although she could have with a background in dance. Instead she delivered a graceful and timeless performance which not only showcased her truly lovely voice but her ability to captivate an audience with song and short monologues while making them laugh, feel and reflect.
In the likeness of great jazz performers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday and in some senses Kathleen Turner as Jessica Rabbit, McKendry is a sophisticated songstress and actress who effortlessly blends humor, sadness, storytelling and old Hollywood glamor into one very enthralling evening. The show began with Liz emerging from behind the seating area and quickly making her way to the stage where she instantaneously grabbed the attention of the audience. Tall, beautiful and very charismatic it was immediately clear that this was not going to be some cheap performance by some night club trollop.
Dressed elegantly and seeming comfortable, McKendry belted out song after song as the audience sat entranced. She covered a wide range of love subcategories from infatuation and heartbreak to falling in love with a cop and being a bar girl everyone can get a piece of. The serious content of her performance strongly channeled an old soul type of wisdom and reflection. The comedy aspect of the show, which came across as even more powerful, was reminiscent of the magic Lucille Ball used to bring to the table. Liz made it come naturally, she made it look easy.
Comedy for the most part is not easy. Madeline Khan was one prolific actress who was gifted at delivering amazing comedy performances, especially under the direction of Mel Brooks. It is therefore not surprising that Liz has been featured in "The Producers" as a swing actress, in one of Mel Brooks's most beloved plays. Frequently harder than maintaining staying in one character at a time, Liz had to take on multiple roles. Although she did not yet, get the starring role of Ulla, it is reasonable to assume that one day she may be the best Ulla cast. Liz is sexy and sassy enough to embody the much aspired character.
Liz posesses the proper pedigree for performance art. Her mother was a dancer and her father played basketball on a professional level, together they instilled a natural ability in Liz to be in the public eye. She often refers to her mother and grandmother as major influences and supporters of her work. She also credits her grandmother and grandfather as being major examples of perseverance. Originally from Buffalo, New York it was her mother who first took 12 year old McKendry to New York's Broadway and Upper East side igniting a passion and ambition to one day be on stage performing musical theater and live near Central Park.
"I think that when your dancing, singing or acting, it's all really acting" she started.
When Liz was a child she actively trained in various forms of dance. She eagerly learned jazz, tap, ballet and even tried her hand at gymnastics. Movement and expression became her first love. As she matured, she took acting classes in her college and regional theater and found her second love. Yet acting was to become more than her hobby, it evolved into her career. A long way to Broadway still had to be trekked but her ambition and refusal to give up on her dreams propelled her to continue in and achieve her current accomplishments. She did not intend to be a great singer originally, it is what can be called serendipity but her natural ability to carry a tune became more than necessary for her evolving acting goals.
Along her way to the musical stage of glorified and legendary Broadway, Liz participated in a modern opera "Great White", starred as a dancer in Las Vegas and staged multiple performances with diverse acting and dance companies. After six auditions for Broadways "The Producers", four of which were call backs, she finally got the break she was looking for. Undoubtedly this progress will continue. McKendry is very much like the actors she admires. Musical like Barbra Streisand, diverse like Meryl Streep, statuesque like Greta Garbo, Liz's future seems brighter than many of the current young stars today. Her ability to be timeless and relevant is what will set her apart from many aspiring musical theater actors. It is this characteristic we will remember long after she reaches stardom.
Star Liz McKendry Makes Cabaret Debut
Broadway's dazzling Liz McKendry takes on a daunting challenge with her solo cabaret debut, performing the most memorable and unique songs from the world's stage musicals, Oscar-winning films of the '60s and celebrated composers and lyricists.
"Love & Pain & The Whole Damn Thing" captures the spirited tale of a young girl's journey of euphoria, disarray and survival in her lifelong search of her dreams.
Conceived, staged and directed by the much-admired New York director Spider Duncan Christopher, it premieres Monday, April 2, 2007 at Helen's, in New York City.
A stunning and gifted New Yorker, Liz McKendry's impressive performance gets underway with lively interpretations from "Steel Pier," "Jeckyll and Hyde," "On The Town," "Funny Girl," and the Oscar-winning original song from the film "The Sandpiper" -- which will be performed as a beautiful duet with guest artist Robert Fowler.
McKendry is currently featured on Broadway in Mel Brooks' musical, "The Producers." She played Hope in "Tall Tales of the Little Black Book" for Working Artists Theatre Project. Her screen credits include: the film "The Producers"; a feature role in "The O.C."; guest appearance in "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy" and various music videos for MTV Europe and Cabaret Benefits for Joseph Johns Production.