It’s nearly 80 degrees in Englewood, NJ, this warm November 6, 2022 evening as music lovers enter BergenPAC’s gleaming new lobby for a heartfelt evening of music by Broadway actress and recording star Linda Eder.
Inside the beautifully-renovated BergenPAC auditorium — featuring new theater seats, carpeting, and an improved sound system and acoustics — the stage is set with a grand piano, a stand-up bass, a drum set, an electronic keyboard, and assorted wind instruments.
The house lights dim and the youngsters who comprise the BergenPAC Special Events Choir entertain tonight’s audience with a selection of Broadway and pop songs complete with piano accompaniment.
Brimming with confidence and talent, the youngsters’ joy for music and theater shines through their performance.
Following a short intermission, the crowd applauds as five musicians — pianist Billy Stritch, bassist David Finck, keyboardist James Olmsted, drummer Eric Halvorson, and saxophonist Aaron Heick — take their places on the stage.
Stritch announces, “Please welcome Linda Eder!” and music lovers cheer and applaud as they rise to their feet. Looking stylish in her black ensemble, Eder smiles as she looks out over the crowd before graciously bowing and cueing the band to begin tonight’s show with a swinging rendition of “Almost Like Being In Love.”
Singing, “What a day this has been/What a rare mood I’m in,” Eder’s effortless vocal fills the BergenPAC auditorium on this uptempo arrangement which transitions into a jazzy version of “This Can’t Be Love.” Holding out a long note as the arrangement slows, Eder’s voice soars with power and feeling before she hits a high note at the end which is greeted by enthusiastic cheers and applause.
“Thank you!” exclaims Eder, joking, “It’s so good to back in this lovely venue on the first day of summer!” Explaining that her current tour features tributes to several of her favorite artists, Eder reveals her opening medley to be her own personal tribute to Judy Garland.
Following a countrified version of Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams” and an uptempo power ballad arrangement of Connie Francis’s “Where the Boys Are,” Eder declares, “We can’t do a concert that has tribute songs without doing one that has this guy in it!” Here, Eder launches into her interpretation of Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon.”
Aaron Heick solos on tenor sax and music lovers’ toes tap on this swinging arrangement which ends with Stritch playing a Count Basie three-chord piano ending.
“That was fun!” exclaims Eder, before announcing, “How about a shout out to the choir?” and joking, “I’d give anything to be that age again!”
Eder introduces her musical director, Billy Stritch, acknowledging, “He’s a wonderful singer.” Crooning in harmony, Eder and Stritch’s voices blend perfectly as they perform Kay Starr’s “Side by Side” together.
Eder takes a seat on a stool, explaining, “I can’t sing this song standing up.” Bowed bass, flute, and piano combine to support Eder’s flawless vocal on “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables. Her legato bell-like voice ringing out true and clear, Eder holds pure tones out as if painting with her voice, bringing the crowd to its feet. Obviously moved by the song, Eder explains her emotion, revealing, “When I sing this song, I think of Jake; I have to try to not think about my son.”
Eder presents a tribute to Olivia Newton-John with her rich, full interpretation of “I Honestly Love You,” and follows up with “Before the Parade Passes By,” a tribute to Barbra Streisand that begins slowly then picks up into an uptempo march. Aaron Heick plays piccolo on this dynamic arrangement which has audience members’ heads bopping and toes tapping. The crowd cheers for Eder and Co.’s spirited performance.
Lights swirl on the auditorium walls and ceiling during Eder’s rendition of Sunset Boulevard’s “As If We Never Said Goodbye” where lush instrumentals provide a cushion for Eder’s voice to float on and then soar above.
Eder introduces world-class bassist David Finck, acknowledging, “This is a song we like to do together.” Finck’s slow, sensual bass line introduces “Stormy Weather.” Bending strings as Eder’s exposed voice bends along with the bass, band members join in with tinkling piano keys, wailing sax, electric keys, and steady drums, before Eder holds out a long note while Finck plunks away underneath her sultry vocal.
Eder impresses the crowd as she effortlessly croons, “Something always brings me back to you,” on Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity,” and she follows up with “a very light country duet with Billy” on “Carry You Home,” a tribute to country music icon, Loretta Lynn.
Revealing, “I can never take this one out of my show — it’s a great song,” Eder launches into “Someone Like You” from Jekyll and Hyde. Crying, “If someone like you/Found someone like me/Then suddenly/Nothing would ever be the same,” Eder sings from the heart with her extraordinary talent and touches music lovers in the crowd who leap to their feet applauding at the end.
Eder explains to the audience, “I did some master classes during the pandemic and one student in particular stands out. Let’s bring out Gianna Grosso from New Jersey!” Grosso and Eder take turns singing with emotion on “In His Eyes,” a duet from Jekyll and Hyde, in a performance which has audience members standing and applauding for the two musical divas.
Eder graciously gives her student an opportunity to shine in the spotlight as Grosso delivers a dynamic solo interpretation of “A Change in Me” from Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast.
The crowd bursts into applause, Eder returns to the stage, and Grosso acknowledges, “I can’t believe that just happened! Linda Eder’s legendary voice is my favorite voice in the world!” before Eder replies, “You’re going places, kid!”
Aaron Heick solos on sax under red hot lights as Eder sings Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me,” and Eder invites the audience to sing along with her on a soulful rendition of Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man.” She follows up with a medley of Judy Garland staples including “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “San Francisco,” and “The Trolley Song,” which elicits avid cheers and applause from the crowd.
Following her Latin-inspired rendition of Shirley Bassey’s “Charade,” Eder introduces the members of her band and launches into an exquisite rendition of her power ballad, “Vienna,” which has audience members enthusiastically responding with a standing ovation.
To conclude tonight’s show, Aaron Heick’s saxophone introduces Eder’s powerful Latin-style arrangement of “Man of La Mancha” where Eder sings high and free, her voice soaring at the climax of the number on a lingering high note which she executes with perfection.
A roar of cheers from the crowd brings people to their feet wanting more as Eder takes a bow and exits.
Eder retakes the stage for an encore of Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow,” featuring only piano and voice. Stritch makes the piano sound like an orchestra and Eder gives a master class in vocal technique and expression — every word crystal clear, sung with intention, and featuring a glorious tone. At the conclulsion, the audience leaps to its feet as Eder blows a kiss and waves goodnight.
As audience members make their way out of the auditorium, we chat with several who share their thoughts about Linda Eder’s concert tonight. Whereas Anne from Flanders calls Eder’s performance “Fabulous!” and Gina from Woodbridge characterizes it as “Excellent,” Eddie from Flanders remarks, “I’ve been following Linda Eder since she was in Jekyll and Hyde. I saw that show 12 times and I’ve seen her in concert six times,” prior to declaring, “She was incredible tonight both in terms of her voice and her personality!”
Susan from Bogota acknowledges, “Before tonight’s show, I had never heard of Linda Eder, but I was pleasantly surprised. She was fantastic! Her musicians were superb, Billy Stritch was fantastic, and I liked that she did jazz, Broadway, and classic songs,” prior to exclaiming, “I can’t wait to see her again!”
Whereas Donna from Edison comments, “Linda Eder’s vocal control is amazing, and when she sings, you can tell she really enjoys what’s doing,” Marty from Staten Island contends, “She has an incredible band. I especially enjoyed the flute playing and Billy Stritch’s beautiful piano work.” Marty’s friend, Marcus from Staten Island, declares, “I love Linda Eder and I think she’s phenomenal,” before joking, “If Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland had a baby, it would be Linda Eder!”
Lastly, we chat with Jerry from Milltown who exclaims, “This is my second time seeing Linda Eder, and I feel so blessed to have been able to see her again tonight! Her voice reached out and touched my soul,” prior to concluding, “She was absolutely transcendent!”
To learn more about Linda Eder, please go to lindaeder.com. For information on great upcoming performances at BergenPAC — including Darlene Love on Dec. 9, Art Garfunkel on Dec. 15, and Marie Osmond on Feb. 18, 2023 — please click on bergenpac.org.
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