And he's not a scary rockstar anymore.

There are a few events that Hillary and I will do ANYTHING to avoid missing. Eating an early Thanksgiving dinner in the dining hall is one; catching the mad sale prices at Old Navy in honor of their 16th birthday is another. And doing everything we can to support the cast members of Next to Normal is a third.

Unfortunately (or fortunately...), neither of the first two items are relevant to this blog. As such, we will ignore that little side note and carry on with the main event.

(Photo credit to BroadwayWorld)

Louis Hobson has been with the cast of Next to Normal since the show played Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage in late 2008. On Wednesday, he made his New York concert debut at Joe's Pub. To put it mildly, we wouldn't have missed it for the world. And what a fantastic night it was! If you've ever listened to or seen Next to Normal (if you haven't, put your life on hold and get on that, please), you've heard the very surface of Mr. Hobson's range in songs like "Make Up Your Mind/Catch Me I'm Falling," his section of "Light," and of course, his Doctor Rockstar riffs. While Hillary and I adore his performance in the show, we've been dying to hear him sing material outside of Tom Kitt's gorgeous score, and his show, which lasted just over an hour, satisfied our musical palates and left us wanting to hear more.

Mr. Hobson's set list took the audience through songs that have shaped his life as a performer and a person, which left room for quite a wide variety of styles. I've been trying to narrow down my favorite songs since last night, and as usual, I'm terrible at it. I loved them all! Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" showed off his rockstar voice, while Harry Connick Jr.'s "We Are In Love" honored his love of jazz. "Corner of the Sky" from Pippin, "The Next Ten Minutes" from The Last Five Years (accompanied by the ridiculously talented Meghann Fahy), and "The Riddle Song" from Floyd Collins (with Jason Danieley, who played Homer in the 1996 off-Broadway production) were awesome choices from some perhaps not-so-well-known musical theater pieces that we know and love. I got a sense of what might be on Mr. Hobson's iPod as he sang Iron & Wine's "Naked As We Came," the much-covered "Wonderwall," and Glen Hansard's "When Your Mind's Made Up." His cover of Regina Spektor's "Us" may well be in my top five favorites from the night. And present and former co-stars Adam Chanler-Berat and Alice Ripley stepped in to add their voices to the Beatles' "Help!" and "Blackbird," respectively. Each guest star complemented Mr. Hobson perfectly, and it was clear that the songs he shared with each of his co-stars were meaningful.

And then, there was the encore. By the time Mr. Hobson joined the Next to Normal team, after the show played at Second Stage Theatre, the song that the musical had originally taken its name from had been cut. But after waiting for two years, we finally got to hear what his rendition of "Feeling Electric" sounded like. And damn, it was good.

At the end of the night, Mr. Hobson was a true rockstar (albeit not a scary one) as he captured and charmed the sold-out room with his awesome, awesome voice. Our only criticism would be of the amendments to the Joe's Pub menu since our last visit to the intimate music hall. (Bring back the fries, please! Although the fruit cobbler was quite delicious.) On the day that Next to Normal officially received its closing announcement, there was nowhere else that Hillary and I could have imagined spending our evening - in the company of good friends, good music, and talented performers that we've come to love over the past two years.


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