Every entertainer craves the big stage, the bright lights, the massive crowds, right? That’s likely a question answered on a one by one basis but for some artists who have achieved the fame and adulation of so many, there’s something special about an intimate performance. It’s like working a different set of muscles. In the same way that film acting differs from theater acting, singers who spend the majority of their stage time in front of hundreds or thousands sometimes enjoy the challenge of a much smaller venue. Orfeh has been a mainstay of the Broadway scene in New York for some time. The recipient of a Tony Nomination for Best Featured Actress in a musical in 2007, she has appeared in Broadway hits like Footloose, Saturday Night Fever, Me and Mrs. Jones, Legally Blonde, Love Janis, and countless others. Her diversity is exhibited on television with roles on Sex and the City, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and feature films like Across the Universe (in a duet with Joe Cocker) and Kiss Me Again. Having established herself as a major draw, she took the seemingly illogical leap of performing a series of concerts at the elegant 54 Below nightclub in NYC. Four consecutive sold out shows at the end of January saw Orfeh presenting some of rock and roll’s most iconic songs in a style that revealed her to be much more than an actress, a star of Broadway, or a nightclub singer.
For an artist like Orfeh, who has performed in numerous venues across the planet, it can be assumed that the experience of the challenge is gratifying. Entertainers who have achieved international acclaim typically get their due as a result of talent and tenacity. The continuation of this template throughout their career is what reassures them that they reject complacency. In Orfeh’s case, it meant performing songs cultivated from some of her favorite rock and roll artists. Although the venue was quite different from that in which she normally finds herself, the level of talent is always exceptional and Orfeh included Doug Middlebrook as part of her team in this manner. Middlebrook is a Tour/Production Manager who more often finds himself overseeing massive productions for artists such as Ariana Grande, Victoria Monet, and others as they traverse the planet. In addition to lending the planning/scheduling abilities for which he is typically enlisted Middlebrook notes, “With Orfeh, I had the chance to come up with songs I thought she might perform well, lyrics she would connect to, and helping her devise where in the program these songs would best stand out. She is an artist who makes her working environments a collaborative process; to be involved artistically was truly special for me. To work with someone as talented, kind, and collaborative as Orfeh was one of the best experiences I have been lucky enough to have.”
Performing at Lincoln Center, on Broadway, and other well-known/respected stages is most certainly a stunning achievement but there are other venues which hold intense allure for artists; 54 Below is one such location which enticed Orfeh. Previously the infamous Studio 54, these days 54 Below is a prestigious and legendary New York City cabaret venue with an extremely intimate vibe. The sold out shows allowed Orfeh’s fans to get much closer, feeling her powerful performance of songs including: “Take Another Little Piece of My Heart”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “You’re All I Need to Get By”, and others. Her incredible voice spans several genres and brings new life to the lyrics. While many artists limit themselves, Orfeh continues to prove, via the Live at 54 Below shows and others, that her true talent is personalizing every song.