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I know it sounds trite, but I'm more connected to my feelings. After all, over the past few years, I've had an in-your-face existence. There's less artifice in what I do and I can bring myself to the work more totally--not as an escape--but as an affirmation of being alive!

-Laurie Beechman, as quoted in TheaterWeek, 1995

No One Is Alone

Blessed with a voice powerful enough to move listeners in the last rows of the highest balcony, Broadway veteran Beechman displays her talents for restraint on this, her fourth solo release. Take, for instance, the Sound of Music chestnut 'Climb Every Mountain.' Beechman has the lung power to grab onto that final high note and jettison it over the highest Alp. Instead she opts for a lower note and lets the swell of the orchestra and her own gorgeous instrument carry the final dramatic moment home. Beechman does still belt out tunes that beg for it, such as 'You'll Never Walk Alone' from Carousel, and she puts her own searing stamp on Jennifer Holliday's Dreamgirls showstopper 'I Am Changing.' In fact, the song's closing lyrics mirror the strength Beechman has shown during her ongoing eight-year battle with ovarian cancer: 'I'll change my life/ I'll make a vow/ And nothin's gonna stop me now.' A fitting coda to this moving and winning album

Laurie Beechman's NO ONE IS ALONE is an inspired collection, from the choice of material to the performance. Beechman is an artist who clearly understands the value of life, more so because of her successful battle with cancer. Already a sensitive singer, a greater depth of emotion infuses her work, whether she's belting her way through Kicks' "These Are the Good Times," reflecting on "Being Alive," or extolling us to "Climb Every Mountain." The theme of Beechman's program is "Songs of Hope and Inspiration from Broadway," but her own courage adds new meaning to the album's title song, "There But for You Go I," The Wiz's "If You Believe," and Dreamgirls' "I Am Changing." She is joined by her sister, Claudia, for "If We Only Have Love," and by Sam Harris for an unusual treatment of "Make Our Garden Grow" matched with "One Hand, One Heart," in a sensitive arrangement by Larry Moore. Her backup group for "You'll Never Walk Alone" includes Loni Ackerman, Terri Klausner, Linda Beasley, Armsted Christian, and Victor Pond. Musicl director Lanny Meyers' orchestrations and arrangements are a bit heavy handed, but the one he did for "On a Clear Day" is hypnotic. Beechman's strength dominates this album.

The gloriously soaring and penetrating voice of Beechman, a star of Broadway (Cats, Les Miserables) and the concert stage, has never radiated more power. Unfortunately, No One doesn't capture her full emotional power (she can also be coy, vulnerable, and witty). But there are moments of splendor, and her shimmering duet with Sam Harris on "Make Our Garden Grow"/"One Hand, One Heart" is near definitive. B+

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