Orange County Section of the Los Angeles Times
February 19, 2000

An Energetic Egan Electrifies

Don Heckman - Special to the Times

If there's anything Susan Egan doesn't need, it's an energy pill.

The 29-year-old Broadway singing star is a high-voltage performer who dominates a stage with a galvanizing presence not often found in such a relatively young artist.

And on Thursday, opening a four-night, six-performance run at Founders Hall in the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Egan was fully charged, her often electrifying presentation the work of a gifted young artist who seems to improve with each outing.

Her program, inspired by its proximity to Valentine's Day, was devoted to love in its many manifestations.  Its peak numbers were extraordinarily well done, both as music and as drama.  Doug Bernstein and Dennis Markell's "Joshua Noveck," for example, allowed this Orange County native to deliver a Valley-girl rendering that was both humorous and insightful.

The Gershwins' "Someone to Watch Over Me," performed with the verse, revealed her understanding of the standard repertoire of the Great American Songbook.  And "Times Like This (I Sure Could Use a Dog)" by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty further revealed her first-rate comedic skills.

Egan paid direct tribute to Valentine's Day with an interesting - if not always effective - blending of Rodgers & Hart's "My Funny Valentine" and Billy Joel's "He's Got a Way."

Shifting gears dramatically, she sang Craig Carnelia's intensely personal "You Can Have the TV" with an icy, close-to-the-breaking-point edge that belied her reputation as a frothy ingenue.

Her growing versatility was further revealed in a passionate rendering of "Maybe This Time" from "Cabaret." (She stars as Sally Bowles in the current Broadway production, though that song was written for the movie.)

One thing is easy to overlook because of Egan's commanding ability to capture an audience's attention with sheer performing skills, but it is equally important:  Egan is an enormously intelligent artist, very much in control of what she is doing.  Her insight into the inner elements of each piece she sang allowed her the freedom to invest songs with many seemingly spontaneous qualities.

Egan's acting skills are fully the equal of her singing abilities.  She also understands that the cabaret stage requires a smaller focus and a more intimate connection with the audience.

To top it off, she seemed to be enjoying every minute of what she was doing - an enjoyment she shared with her captivated listeners.