You Made This Tour - Strath Haven High School edition

In what may be the quickest turnaround time you will ever see on this blog, we present to you now a recap of Kerrigan and Lowdermilk's "You Made This Tour" concert, held tonight at Strath Haven High School in  Wallingford, PA. We wanted to get this post out fast because, in addition to being irrationally excited about only having to drive 20 minutes instead of 2 hours to see Mr. Lowdermilk, Ms. Kerrigan and all their fantastic friends perform their music, we also wanted to give all of you who live in the Philly opportunity a heads up that there will be another concert tomorrow night at Drexel University at 7:00 pm in the Mandell Theater. If you can get there, get there. If you can't, don't worry - there will be another recap from that show as well.

As for this show, performers ranged from some of our favorite Broadway performers (Morgan Karr, Andy Mientus, Dee Roscioli, Kate Ferber, and Carrie Manolakos) to a youth choir (The Strath Haven Silvertones) to students, friends and mentors to Mr. Lowdermilk and Ms. Kerrigan themselves. We were (of course) blown away by all the performances, and offer a recap with commentary below.

The show opened with one of Kerrigan-Lowdermilk's more recent songs, "In Between," sung by the incredibly talented Carrie Manolakos and Andy Mientus and accompanied by The Strath Haven Silvertones. It was a great arrangement of the song, and singing about love and springtime always seems fitting when the season itself is (hopefully) right around the corner. Next up was one of our personal favorites, "Two Strangers," performed with brilliant clarity by the amazing Morgan Karr and again accompanied by The Strath Haven Silvertones. Mr. Karr is one-third of the trio that performs the song on Kerrigan & Lowdermilk's album Our First Mistake, and hearing him once again perform the song live was great. Mr. Karr's amazing falsetto gives us chills, and everything about this song is just beautiful.

The third performer to take the stage was Brian Lowdermilk himself, singing the admittedly quasi-autobiographical "The Bad Years," which in my opinion is one of the most humorous songs in their catalogue. Despite his protestations that he is an awful singer, Mr. Lowdermilk did just fine, and Ms. Kerrigan, Ms. Manolakos, Mr. Mientus, Mr. Karr, and Ms. Ferber all provided backup vocals and harmonies on the number. This number was followed by another favorite, "Say the Word" from the Kerrigan-Lowdermilk musical The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown (which, btw, is playing this summer at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. We're so excited, it's not even funny). It was sung by an old friend of Mr. Lowdermilk and Ms. Kerrigan, Liz Seymour, who had a beautiful voice and completely captured all the angst and longing that comes with being a teenager.

Kait Kerrigan then took to the microphone, accompanied by Ms. Ferber, to perform the adorable "I'm Sorry," a tune about unrequited preschool love. After that cuteness, Mr. Lowdermilk and Ms. Kerrigan introduced a brand new song (10% of which was written the night before) called "Barcelona, Cartagena, Anywhere." It reminded Michelle strongly of Dashboard Confessional (that's a compliment) and was a melancholy song inspired by a recent breakup (and a bar called Tipsy Parsons, which Mr. Lowdermilk found inspirational while creating the melody. It's catchiness then infected Ms. Kerrigan, who  put lyrics to the tune. Also, the two of them are delightful storytellers). It was sung beautifully by Andy Mientus, and I certainly hope to hear it performed often at future concerts. After that, Dee Roscioli proceeded to blow us away with a powerful rendition of perhaps my favorite Kerrigan-Lowdermilk song (although it's so damn difficult to pick just one), "How to Return Home." It's an incredibly poignant song, especially for college students, and Ms. Roscioli's voice is simply phenomenal.

Another friend of the composers, Marcus Stevens, performed two songs - "The Ballad of Coral Cove" and "Sadie," the former of which was written by Mr. Lowdermilk and Mr. Stevens, the latter one of Kerrigan-Lowdermilk's more recent songs. Interestingly enough, Michelle and I had planned to see Mr. Stevens perform the role of Jamie in a production of The Last Five Years in Media, PA (we've wanted to see it staged for years), but college craziness prevented us from doing so. As such, it was a nice surprise to get to see Mr. Stevens perform. Morgan Karr then returned to finish out the first portion of the set with "Last Week's Alcohol," another of my favorite Kerrigan-Lowdermilk songs and another song from their album (the album version is sung by Matt Doyle). It is always amazing to hear different performers sing these songs because they all bring something incredible and unique to the piece, and this was no exception.

After a brief intermission, the second set opened with the adorable "My Party Dress," sung here by Emma Hartley, one of Mr. Lowdermik and Ms. Kerrigan's students from The Young People's Theatre Workshop. Ms. Hartley was cute as a button and both acted and sang the song wonderfully. The audience (and Mr. Lowdermilk and Ms. Kerrigan) were in stitches with laughter. She was then joined by other students from The Young People's Theatre Workshop who Mr. Lowdermilk and Ms. Kerrigan have worked with to perform a song they wrote this summer called "Up and Down." The song was about the existential crisis of an elevator, and it was fantastic. I was a fan, and the melody was incredibly catchy. Two thumbs up. Up next was a mentor to both Mr. Lowdermilk and Ms. Kerrigan, Claudia Carlsson, who sang a gorgeous version of "Five and a Half Minutes." Michelle and I both love that all the women we've heard sing this song (Katie Thompson sings it on the album) have such rich, full voices that sound simply incredible interpreting the song's brilliant lyrics.

After that stirring performance, another friend of Mr. Lowdermilk's, Zachary Altman, performed two numbers, "Rise" (a soaring song about Henry IV, in Northern Ireland, in the 1970s. The word "shite" was used. It was delightful) and "Not a Love Story" (performed on Our First Mistake by Kelli O'Hara). Mr. Altman is an incredibly trained opera singer, and his voice was perfectly matched for both songs. I loved his interpretations of them. The next song was the hysterical (and curse-laden) "Vegas" performed with enthusiasm by Andy Mientus and Ryan Nelson (another pal of Mr. Lowdermilk's). I really enjoyed this song when it was performed at earlier "You Made This Tour" concerts, and it was just as entertaining here. Who doesn't love a song that chronicles the imaginary shenanigans of two drunk frat boys? Nobody, that's who.

The final three songs of the night were sung by three fierce women. First, Kate Ferber performed a fantastic, acoustic version of "Avalanche," another one of my new favorite songs by Kerrigan and Lowdermilk. While Katrina Rose Dideriksen belted the crap out of this song at earlier concerts, Ms. Ferber's version was a more restrained (but still belt-tastic), stripped down version of the song that worked well in the intimate setting. And then... awesomeness happened when Carrie Manolakos returned to center stage to sing perhaps the most well known Kerrigan-Lowdermilk song, "Run Away With Me." Our love for this song in all its incarnations is well documented (a previous post contains a list of all the performers we hope to one day see/hear sing this song), and while Ms. Manolakos was not on that list, she certainly should have been. Michelle and I are currently in love with her voice, thanks in no small part to the fact that she appears on nearly all the CDs of up and coming Broadway composers, and has performed at previous "You Made This Tour" concerts and Jonathan Reid Gealt's show in February. And was in Things to Ruin. Basically, she's awesome, and her performance of this song was fantastic. It was the first time I had heard a female perform the song (not counting the version by The Spring Standards that appears on the album), and it was just fantastic. Everything about it was perfection, and Mr. Mientus, Ms. Ferber, and Ms. Kerrigan provided wonderful harmonies. For the last song of the evening, Dee Roscioli led the entire company (and the audience, which included Michael Arden - so we're totally counting that as us singing with him. Okay? Okay.) in a rendition of "Holding On," which has become an anthem of sorts for the tour. Like the rest of the evening, it was freaking fantastic. I love the way the simple refrain builds into this incredible anthem about overcoming obstacles and living life in spite of its challenges. After the hectic few weeks Michelle and I have had, it's message was much needed and uplifting.

It all made for an excellent evening of music, and don't forget - you have one last opportunity to catch the "You Made This Tour" tomorrow night at 7:00 pm in the Mandell Theater of Drexel University. Don't miss it!


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