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REVIEW: Feinstein’s/54 Below Sings Barbie

by Melissa Griegel, Theater Pizzazz

There are clearly lots of Barbie musical movies fans out there, based on the full house for “54 Sings Barbie” produced by Jillian Michelle Smith.

The supper club was filled with patrons adorned in pink and there were small hair crowns and wands on the tables for those who left their princess gear at home. Mylar balloons spelling Barbie hung behind the band, and all of the performers wore their Princess Barbie best.

”I loved watching the Barbie musicals as a little girl,” Jillian told the crowd. “This is my first time producing, but as Barbie always said, ‘You can be anything you want to be!’.” Jillian is still a student, majoring in Musical Theater. She brought with her a bevy of singers who took turns singing songs from assorted Barbie classics. Performers included Florence Bannigan, Maggie Bera, Gabrielle Bieder, Cara Rose DiPietro, Sejal Johnson, Anna Chase Lanier, Sasha Spitz, and Abigail Tucker. Jillian was also one of the performers, in addition to being the show’s producer.

Austin Pogrob served as the Music Director, pianist, and occasional accompanist singing the male parts to a song. He was joined by Matthew Herman on the piano and Skyler Fortang on guitar.

Rightly so, Princess and the Pauper was the most popular Barbie musical being highlighted during the evening with five songs from this movie. The Princess and the Pauper movie songs, with music and lyrics by Rob Hudnut and Amy Powers, have some of the most iconic and beloved Barbie songs. At the time of its release, the CD of the movie sold well, and merchandising included microphones, necklaces, and Barbie dolls that would play music from the movie when pressed. Of all the Barbie movies, I think this one would actually make a terrific transfer to the stage.

Other popular choices for the evening included songs from The Island Princess, The Diamond Castle, and The Barbie Diaries, with two to four selections being chosen from those movies. All of the performers seemed to thoroughly enjoy their time on stage, reliving some of their favorite memories of watching Barbie as a little girl. In addition to solos, there were duets and group numbers. The show was rounded out with one song each from The Pink Shoes, Princess Adventure, Rock ‘N Roll Royals, The Three Musketeers, and The Secret Door.

Jillian thanked Feinstein’s/54 Below for letting her put on an evening of Barbie tunes, and said she hoped that this is the first of many. It was definitely a fun evening and I would go back if she does another show. An evening of just The Princess and the Pauper would also be fantastic.


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