It’s a cold, blustery winter night on the eve of a major storm, but, the air was warm with love and affection at the Signature Theatre Wednesday night as the powerhouse Broadway couple Chelsea Packard and Geoff Packard took to the stage to deliver a romantic evening of love songs just days before Valentine’s Day called Our Funny Valentine with Chelsea and Geoff Packard. Weaving tales about how they met on the national tour of Wicked in Baltimore with their Broadway endeavors, the evening was an up-close, personal look at two rising stars with a vast repertoire of musical theatre credits.
Performed in Signature Theatre’s intimate ARK Theatre, their performance highlighted the best of Cabaret art: simple but beautiful orchestration by Accompanist Howard Brietbart, tongue-in-cheek storytelling, crisp vocals, and, of course, the breaking of the fourth wall with exciting audience participation.
The evening featured a rich mix of Broadway fan-favorites and popular songs, meddled in with one original number written by Geoff Packard himself from his EP that made the evening memorable and unique.
Broadway fanatics in the audience were given a taste of exactly what they needed on a cold, winter’s night with a series of incredible Broadway medleys and covers. This makes sense since Chelsea and Geoff are no strangers to the Broadway stage: Chelsea has been seen on Broadway in Wicked, Hands on a Hardbody and Promises, Promises, while husband Geoff has been seen on Broadway in Rock of Ages, Phantom of the Opera, and Wicked. Their individual stage presence is undeniable, and, together, their chemistry makes them a fun couple to watch and an even better vocal duo.
A highlight of the evening was their rendition of “I’m Gone” from Hands on a Hard Body, which played on Broadway for a short three-week run. While nobody in the audience responded that they knew the musical when it was introduced, by the song’s end, audience members were nodding in agreement with Chelsea when she noted that the musical had its “gems.”
Shortly afterwards, Chelsea took to the piano and Geoff to the acoustic guitar to perform “Gold” from the Tony Award-winning 2012 Best Musical Once, which was a hit among the audience members. The show, which revolves around two musicians who fall in love over their shared love of music, was enlighteningly similar to the Packard’s themselves—who bonded over their connection as musical actors. The sense of authenticity came through in their performance and in the many stories the pair told throughout the evening.
The couple then performed a three-song medley of Meet Me in St. Louis, which starred Judy Garland when it first ran in 1944. The medley—which focused on the absurdity and “flimsiness” of the plot—perfectly captures the whimsicality and theatricality of the couple. It was no surprise to learn that the couple actually played opposite one other in a production of that same musical at Bucks County Playhouse in December.
The most exciting portion of the night for me was when they got the audience involved in a game—during which the audience member’s picked a musical for which the two had to audition for using the same series of lyrics for each audition. With audience members picking musicals including Cabaret, The Lion King, Annie, and Les Miserables, their renditions of these classic musicals left the audience in paralyzing laughter.
Chelsea and Geoff also took their shot at more mainstream music. Chelsea showed off her jazz chops in a cover of the Jazz standard “If I Were A Bell” by Miles Davis, which provided a nice change of pace in the evening as Chelsea navigated the complicated riffs and intricacies of jazz vocals with relative ease. The couple also performed Pink’s “Just Give Me A Reason,” a song about the struggles in their and other’s relationships. They handled the difficult vocals of Pink and Fun’s Nate Ruess with a degree of finesse that made the performance enjoyable and amusing.
The evening concluded with an encore performance that left the audience toe tapping in their seats, full of laughter and smiling ear-to-ear. The couple chose a brilliant encore piece: George Michael and Aretha Franklin’s “I Knew You Were Waiting,” a soulful exclamation point on a romantic evening of showtunes and pop ballads.
Signature bills the performance as a rare chance to “combine… musical talents for a Valentine’s night of love songs sure to warm even the coldest of February nights,” and the Packard’s certainly delivered on that promise.
Running Time: Approximately one hour, with no intermission.
Our Funny Valentine with Chelsea and Geoff Packard plays through February 15, 2014 at Signature Theatre—4200 Campbell Avenue in Arlington, Virginia. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 820-9771, or purchase them online.
This Cabaret performance is presented part of the Winter Cabaret Festival at Signature Theatre, which runs through March 1, 2014. For tickets to remaining performances of the Winter Cabaret Festival, call (703) 820-9771, or purchase them online.