Review: Lady Gaga: #ARTBIRTH (Sara Schwartz Geller Productions)

Photo of Athena ReichSinger Athena Reich brings Lady Gaga to life on the Toronto stage in #ARTBIRTH

Lady Gaga: #ARTBIRTH is a cabaret show meets glam-pop concert playing at the Berkeley Street Theatre. Athena Reich, our Gaga for the night, hits all the money notes and if it were a “who can sing like Gaga competition”, she would absolutely win hands down. However, we came to see a “show” and unfortunately…Lady Gaga: #ARTBIRTH didn’t deliver.

First thing’s first…Athena Reich is an undeniable singer. There were times when I felt like her voice was ringing through the rafters and I’d swear that she was an angel who has come down from heaven in Gaga form. If you want to hear a spot on impression of Lady Gaga, Reich is the one to see.

I’ll also say that the musical numbers were very satisfying to watch featuring an expert crew of dancers backing them up.

When Gaga was singing, I was happy, but when it came to the character of Gaga herself…there was a feeling of one-sidedness and maybe even mockery turning a seemingly interesting character such as Gaga, into a fame-hungry caricature.

The show starts off with a very pregnant Gaga announcing that she’s going to give birth “right here on stage” in front of all of her fans, aka “hashtag artbirth”. But instead of getting to see another, perhaps more tender side of our “Mama Monster”, we got a bunch of gags about being pregnant that weren’t backed up by any kind of connection to Gaga’s REAL feelings towards being a mom.

Reich kept saying how much she loves her fans and her baby and the world…but I just didn’t “feel” those emotions coming from Gaga and though she had her “moments” of genuineness, like when her baby fell off the piano or when she got rejected by Madonna on camera in front of the whole audience, there was still a blasé-ness to whatever she was doing or saying making it difficult for myself as an audience member to stay engaged and connect with the Gaga character.

The musical numbers were riveting as I mentioned earlier, however; the dialogue between them seemed a little too improvised and casual, sometimes even coming off as unprepared which made for some slightly awkward pauses.

I’ll say that the highest point in the show was right before intermission when Gaga finally gives birth where “I live for the applause” turns into “I learned it in lamaze”. Easily the funniest moment in the show…but once the baby was born, I found myself thinking, “why should I even care if she doesn’t either”?

So although I was able to enjoy some great vocals, I ended up leaving the theatre with a Gaga-sized hole in my heart.

Details:

  • Lady Gaga: #ARTBIRTH is playing at the Canadian Stage Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley St.)
  • Performances run until September 3, 2017 at 8:00 pm, see website for dates and times.
  • Ticket prices range from 30$ – 45$ and are available to purchase online or at the box office (416-368-3110)
  • This venue is accessible.
  • Audience Advisory: Mature Content.

Photo of Athena Reich by Malinda Goldberger.