In the world of Broadway, moments of sheer genuineness are rare, but Melissa Etheridge's concert intertwined with memoir, "Melissa Etheridge: My Window," is an exception. Opening recently at the Circle in the Square Theater, just a stone's throw from its original Off-Broadway location, the performance offers a profound intimacy.
It's akin to Etheridge fitting an entire arena concert into a quaint room, making every spectator feel like they're sharing a personal memory with her. One such heartfelt instance arises when Etheridge reminisces about her early aspirations in 1979, right before leaving Kansas for Boston's music school.
Her cherished 12-string guitar's macramé strap, lovingly crafted by her father, is tenderly shown to the audience, symbolizing an enduring emblem of paternal love.
Etheridge's Intimate Theater Transformation
The ambiance of the Circle in the Square Theater, which doesn't typically exude warmth, is transformed by Etheridge's powerful presence.
She captures the audience's attention, all 726 of them, interacting and occasionally serenading them from the floor, making the space feel more intimate than ever before. Developed in collaboration with her wife, Linda Wallem Etheridge, and directed by Amy Tinkham, the show is a musical voyage.
It showcases 15 of Etheridge’s tracks, including iconic numbers like “Come to My Window” and the playful “On Broadway”. The set's simplicity, designed by Bruce Rodgers, beautifully contrasts Olivia Sebesky's intricate projections.
Abigail Rosen Holmes's dynamic lighting and Etheridge's costumes by Andrea Lauer add splendor to the visual experience. While the Broadway rendition is more refined than its Off-Broadway counterpart, Etheridge's raw emotion remains palpable.
Her candid storytelling approach, although sometimes causing her to search for the right words, feels sincere. The performance also introduces a comedic element with Kate Owens portraying the role of a Roadie, who occasionally upstages Etheridge with playful antics.
Etheridge's quick wit and rapport with the audience are evident, especially during spontaneous interactions. Contrasting this lightheartedness, Etheridge's narration about the loss of her son in 2020 strikes a profound chord.
Her vulnerability during this segment is evident, making it all the more poignant. Etheridge's "My Window" is more than just a musical; it’s an experience. From her early days in Kansas to her meteoric rise to fame, she has remained connected to her audience. On Broadway, that connection is as tangible as ever.