Joshua Henry and Alysha Umphress have been friends for a long time, going back to when they were a pair of kids in the ensemble of Broadway's American Idiot. It's there that they met, and immediately blew each other away. "We had a mutual admiration for each other," recalls Umphress, who now stars in the new On the Town revival. "We would fool around [with music] and come up with really awesome arrangements." Henry adds, "I love rethinking songs. We both have a jazzy, soulful sensibility. Our voices really work well together."
They'll debut a new concert titled Romantic Duets at 54 Below on February 9, just before Valentine's Day. It's a show that's been in the works for quite some time. "Since 2009," Henry recalls, "it was always, 'How can we make it happen?'" Initially, it was on the docket for 2014. "Then I did Beaches at Signature Theatre," says Umphress, "and we weren't able to." This year, they were both in town — Umphress bouncing around in a taxi at the Lyric Theatre, Henry about to go into rehearsals for the upcoming concert of Parade at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall.
The evening features tunes by the likes of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Adam Guettel, Jonathan Larson, and Ray Charles. But you've never heard them like this. "They're very different," Henry notes. Jeff Blumenkrantz, with whom Umphress just released an album, penned some of the arrangements.
How romantic does it get? "Well, Josh is married and I have a boyfriend, so it doesn't get too romantic," Umphress says with a laugh. "Romantic musically, to be sure," Henry concludes.
Watch the pair sing a mash-up of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "You Are Never Away" from Allegro and "Ten Minutes Ago" from Cinderella below.
For tickets to Romantic Duets, click here.
For tickets to On the Town, click here.
For tickets to Parade, click here.
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