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Nothing “mezzo” about this Soprano

Amanda Reckonwith Returns Review by Jen Bush

A countertenor is a type of male singing voice whose vocal range is equivalent to a female contralto or mezzosoprano.  It is the rarest of all voice types and David Sabella happens to be one!  According to his bio, he is cited as one of the “originators of the American countertenor sound” and the only one working in the popular music genres of Broadway and the Great American Songbook.  His wildly impressive 4-octave range affords him the ability to sing in a traditional male breadth as well. 

Sabella’s biography is vast and impressive to say the least.  Here are some highlights.  He originated the starring role of “Mary Sunshine in the 1996 revival of Chicago and remained in that role on Broadway and with the touring company for a decade.  He won the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition.  He’s performed throughout the world in opera companies, has done voiceover work and has performed in extensive cabarets.  Just to drop a few names, he’s worked with Ann Reinking, Joel Grey, Patrick Swayze, Chita Rivera and countless others.  As I found out tonight, this award-winning artist is indeed a man to reckon with!

David Sabella has an equally talented alter ego named Amanda Reckonwith.  Amanda graced the stage of Pangea this evening and brought down the house with her vocal prowess and comedic ability in Amanda Reckonwith Returns.  Amanda’s story is that she has been “away” for 25 years.  Tonight was her triumphant return to the stage but she seems to be living in the past.  Political correctness seems to have escaped her which led to some of the funniest moments in the show. 

The set began with How Lovely to be a Woman from Bye Bye Birdie.  Amanda energetically jutted through the audience, established the lighthearted tone of the evening and immediately revealed what a talented entertainer she is.  Next, she teased the audience a bit with opera classic, O Mio Babbino Caro opting out of all the high notes with ingenious humor. 

The 13-song set consisted of a mix of Broadway, Opera and the Great American Songbook.  David Sabella deeply connected with the captivated, super enthused SOLD-OUT audience.  His ability to hit the high notes and to hold the notes is just astonishing.  He is a vocal powerhouse who can belt like nobody’s business and then bring a tear to your eye with a tender ballad.  The comedic elements in the storytelling were both clever and saucy.  Amanda could easily be Dame Edna’s more skilled singing cousin or Angela Lansbury’s naughty little sister.  Sweet and subversive all in one package.  Case in point and a nod to the costuming, in the first half of the set, Amanda wore an elegant sparkly cocktail dress.  By the end of the show she was in a leather outfit with a flowing kimono and holding various dominatrix implements.  In between songs were stories told by Amanda but that were biographical to David Sabella’s life.  Amanda Reckonwith Returns was a fabulously fun foray into song and storytelling delivered by a versatile luminary in the entertainment industry.  He brought the sold-out crowd to their feet as they praised him with deafening applause and cheers.  Amanda Reckonwith Returns will return to Pangea on April 15th.  Do yourself a favor and snag a seat early before they’re all gone.  David Sabella and Amanda Reckonwith are both forces to be reckoned with in the best possible way.

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