You cannot stop the beat

Posted on 19 Dec 2007 at 5:38pm
By Arnold Wayne Jones Staff Writer


Photo by FRAZIER PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO

Blonsky shows promise in concert debut with Turtle Creek Chorale

For many in Dallas, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a "Nutcracker" from the Texas Ballet Theater, "A Christmas Carol" from the Dallas Theater Center and an outrageous selection of sacred and secular songs from the Turtle Creek Chorale.

But on Sunday, the second half of the Chorale’s final holiday concert of the year was turned over entirely to 19-year-old "Hairspray" star Nikki Blonsky, who has never given a full-out concert performance before.

It showed.

While beautifully self-possessed and chock full of personality, Blonsky’s inexperience bled through. She occasionally reverted to banter and a presentation better suited for a gymatorium than the Meyerson Symphony Center: She introduced virtually every number with an anecdote, a tribute to a family member or both; she hit a few sour notes among the oh-so-familiar selection of carols; and her version of "Something to Talk About" seemed temperamentally ill-fitting.

But if Blonsky needs seasoning before you can call her an accomplished concert artist, she gave audience members exactly what they wanted: plenty of songs from her signature show "I Can Hear the Bells," "You Can’t Stop the Beat" and "Good Morning Baltimore," with "Dallas" occasionally replacing the eponymous city in her lyric. She sparkled throughout.

Blonsky served as the confectionary topping to the Chorale’s weightier first act, culled from its "Children Will Listen" concert the previous week. Artistic director Jonathan Palant has continued to show a dedication to the unconventional, and he handles directing duties with a sneaky charisma. On one song, he arrested the applause with a sustained hand gesture that showed a man in full control of his audience.

When Blonsky can do that, you’ll know she’s ready for her close-up. She’s a diva-in-training, and everyone present for her debut will be able to say proudly one day, "I saw her when."

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 21, 2007.

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