by Lisa Jarisch
This is not as much a review as it is a thank-you note, Or, as my mother and grandmother would call it, a bread and butter note. In my youth, I was taught that whenever you were given a present, or were invited to share a meal, attend a birthday party, spend an overnight, or otherwise receive a gift from a friend, relative, or neighbor, you hand-wrote a note thanking the giver for the experience. And on a Friday night, with the first hints of Fall swirling through the cool Chatham air, Elizabeth Ward Land offers an almost full house at the Mac-Haydn Theatre a gift worthy of a note engraved on the finest stationery.
In 2019, Land’s Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard gave us a performance to cherish in memory when the world shut down in 2020. Returning to the Mac with Still Within the Sound of My Voice, Land shares the music and songs of Linda Ronstadt in a presentation combining music, memories, stories and revelations. Nora Desmond playing the oboe? Yup. Full confession of an obsessive love of cats? Yup. Full confession of first love, first affair, and finding true love? Yup. Clear and absolute adoration and appreciation for the genius of Linda Ronstadt? On full display for the all-too brief 90 minutes Land is on the stage, backed with 4 musicians, and joined by stalwart Mac-Haydn favorites Gabe Belyeu and Madison Stratton, whose pitch-perfect harmonies add an extra touch of magic to the evening.
Still Within the Sound of My Voice is not a show, It is not a production. It is not a performance of a scripted work. Rather,it is an intimate gathering of friends in the audience lucky enough to enjoy this salute to Ronstadt’s life work. Over the 90 minute Land switches effortlessly from rock to country to light opera to mariachi to folk, with a little big band thrown in for good measure. Some moments brought tears, some laughter, some sheer silence as notes echoed and died away through the theatre. Land enters with a styled and stylish version of “Heat Wave” and smoothly works her way through decades of classic Ronstadt. Each song paints its own picture of a singular moment in both Land’s and Ronstadt’s lives, and Land places each picture in a beautiful vocal frame.
Take advantage of one more chance to savor this gem among this season’s Limited Performances series. Land’s glorious voice and the memory of this evening will linger in your heart and your head for a “Long, Long Time”
Still Within the Sound of My Voice: The Songs of Linda Ronstadt August 18, September 10, and September 17 at 7 pm at the Mac-Haydn Theatre, 1925 Route 203 Chatham, MY Musical arrangements by Andrew David Sotomator, Vocal Arrangements by Joel Waggoner. Starring Elizabeth Ward Land, with Gabe Belyeu and Madison Stratton. Piano: David Maglione. Guitar: Nate Huvard. Bass: Cyndy Elliott. Percussion: Andres Vahos. Lighting: Kevin Gleason. Sound Design: Whitaker Gardner