The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) kicked of its 2012-2013 season with four amazing concerts, Los Lonely Boys, Giants of Jazz, Midtown Direct Rep and Norbert Leo Butz. On Saturday, October 13th, two-time Tony Award-winner and South Orange resident Norbert Leo Butz performed at SOPAC. On stage he joked about his 0.7 mile commute as well as his extensive search for a parking spot. On his walk down to SOPAC, as he passed people heading to the show, he had his locally bought kitchen rug tucked under his arm, since he forgot to purchase a “stage.” Continuing the show, Butz explained that the theme of the performance would be ‘memories.’
“An Evening with Norbert Leo Butz” opens a window of musical variety from classics to country toBroadway and pop music. Harmonizing with a six-man band, Butz performed songs that were either about memories or evoked a memory from his life. The first half of his show was about past loves and the lost of a loved one. Starting with love songs by Van Morrison, amongst other classics, Butz proceeded with a tribute to his sister. He explained that after losing someone, they are placed on a pedestal, omitting any flaw and only leaving the happy memories. Ending the first half was his high intensity performance of a song from the off-Broadway musical “The Last Five Years.” The song was a fun choice that showed off Butz’s vocal range. After ending the song he wished luck to any actor who takes on the challenging role of Jamie.
The second half of the show which Butz called “Leo’s Girls,” he performed a series of songs dedicated to his daughters and wife. The series began with his fatherly rendition of Ray Charles’s “Georgia,” - dedicated to his 22-month-old daughter named after George Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” For his two girls, Clara and Maggie, he sang “No One” by Alicia Keys, which he explained was a road trip hit in 2007. Following his brief encore, Butz performed a touching song for his wife/Broadway talent Michelle Federer.
When opening the show, Norbert Leo Butz simply expressed that “when you have a name like Butz, people expect big things from you.” At the end of “An Evening with Norbert Leo Butz,” the audience gave him a deserved standing ovation.
Tracy Christiani is an Albright College graduate, 2012 B.A. in Art and Communication, and Columbia High School Alumni, 2008. After moving back to Maplewood, she received an internship at SOPAC combining her areas of concentration.