In 2020, Elizabeth Ward Land (Amazing Grace, Scandalous, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Memphis, City of Angels) won the Bistro Award for Outstanding Tribute Show for her work on STILL WITHIN THE SOUND OF MY VOICE: THE SONGS OF Linda Ronstadt. Tonight she gave a repeat performance of that award-winning show at The Green Room 42. She hadn’t finished the first number before it became clear why her show won awards. Not only is Elizabeth Ward Land a compelling actress and singer, her show is well structured, well written, well directed, and impeccably performed. She uses the facts of Linda Ronstadt‘s Life, a young girl who leaves her home and family in Tuscon for an uncertain future in music, to tell the story of Elizabeth Ward Land, a young girl who leaves her home and family in Denver for an uncertain future in theatre. They have much in common.
Linda Ronstadt blazed a trail through the music industry. She was rock and roll’s first real female superstar. From her early days with The Stone Poneys, she was electric. And just about the time fans and critics thought they had her style pinned down, she reinvented herself in another genre as if she had been singing it all her life. Defying the expectations of agents, producers, and recording executives, she breezed through Rock, Pop, Country, Zydeco, Broadway, Opera, Big Band, Punk, Bluegrass, Folk, and Mariachi and topped the charts in all those styles. Since her retirement in 2011, her popularity has only grown. Her music is still everywhere.
Ms. Land sang all the Ronstadt tunes you really wanted to hear including ” Heat Wave,” “Different Drum,” “When Will I Be Loved?,” ” That’ll Be the Day,” “It’s So Easy,” “Just One Look,” “Someone To Lay Down Beside Me,” and “Somewhere Out There.” She even sang a Mariachi medley dedicated to Linda’s three award-winning albums of Mexican music. She used “You’re No Good” to underscore a sequence about finally choosing herself over the needs of boyfriends while a young actress. She also used Ronstadt’s Nelson Riddle version of “Falling In Love Again” to talk about her important audition for the musical City of Angels.
The standout moment of the evening was a fantastic arrangement of “Heart Like a Wheel” and “Faithless Love.” It was a wonderful acting moment by Ms. Land and the harmonies by Joel Waggoner and Madison Stratton were gorgeous. She took out her guitar and played a beautiful duet with Kevin Kuhn on “Blue Bayou.” The end of the show was another marvelous moment that blended Land and Ronstadt’s stories into the haunting “Still Within the Sound of My Voice.” Elizabeth Ward Land even gave us a surprise for the encore when she sat down at the piano and played “Desperado” as a tribute to her mom, who was a piano teacher.
The show was a very loving tribute to a strong and talented woman who brought joy to so many people. Make up your mind whether I’m talking about Linda Ronstadt or Elizabeth Ward Land because the same statement applies to both women