Daisy: Still the Freshest Flower in the Garden of Entertainment

Posted: April 4, 2011 in Broadway, Cabaret, Culture, Entertainment, New York City, Nightlife, Performance, Theater, Theatre, Uncategorized

It was a very fortunate audience indeed that gathered at the Laurie Beechman Theatre (located at the West Bank, 407 West 42nd between Ninth and Tenth Avenues) to see, hear and savor the one and only Daisy Eagan in her long-anticipated return to the New York stage in her newfangled cabaret-concert, Still Daisy After All These Years. Eagan made theatre history when she became the youngest Tony Award winner ever for her breathtaking portrayal of Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden, penned by Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon and based on the beloved novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. And though she’s made similar splashes since then, most notably on one of Jamie deRoy’s compilation CDs where she sang “Wynken, Blynken and Nod,” as well as on a reality-TV show,  she’s seemed most content to fade into the background after a series of personal struggles and nestling into the uncanny quiet of Southern California. However, with this show, Eagan unquestionably managed to bring required rain to a very thirsty lawn, and was not only once and again a star to the teeth, but seems at long last able to prove that regardless of all, she is first and foremost a young woman (in her early thirties, which is scarcely believable) who places abject truth above any remote affectation of the trappings of erstwhile stardom.

Her sparse choice of eight musical selections, played with utter elegance by young Joshua Stephen Kartes, are a tad predictable;  among them are “I Enjoy Being a Girl,” “Over the Rainbow,” “Never Never Land,” and “The Greatest Star” besides a completely-enthralling “The Girl I Mean To Be,” and, of course, “Broadway Baby,” which she sang at Carnegie Hall in 1993 as part of a tribute to Stephen Sondheim that also included Liza Minnelli, Bernadette Peters, and Patti LuPone along with many other luminaries. But Eagan’s true hook with this show lies not in the music; rather, it’s in her brilliant autobiographical narrative. She is, in a word, mystifying, when telling the audience of her experiences. And no one in the audience seems more mystified than the lady herself; it’s as though she can’t quite believe what’s become of her life, and yet she wears it all as if within the comfort of her favorite nightgown. She’s never anything less than completely matter-of-fact about any element, whether it’s auditioning for Les Miserables in sweat pants and a stained sweater among fifty little girls in white Communion dresses (and still managing to get the role of Young Cosette besides understudying for Gavroche, which she preferred), or the tragic circumstances of her late mother’s demise and her subsequent move from the East Coast to the West. In point of fact, Eagan emerges as one of the great storytellers of our time with this show, which is testament to her greatness.

In a just world, Daisy Eagan and Still Daisy After All These Years will be very quickly developed further into two acts, and brought Off-Broadway at the very least, as well as a tour. Until then, those of us who were fortunate enough to attend on March 28th will simply have to accept the fact that we were privileged to catch a trip to the moon on gossamer wings.

  1. Sylvia says:

    I had somehow forgotten about the Tony Award. I was working that show and it’s always insane since everyone has to wing everything. I was on the hydraulic for the mic so when she won there was an AD or somebody SCREAMING ‘\”LOWER THE MIC LOWER THE MIC!” I happy to say it was all good. And we were at Les Miz at the same time though she left for Secret Garden shortly after I started. Great article, great to hear how fabulous she still is. And lovely to have you here, Drew.

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