Surveying her artistic trajectory over the past nine months, Shoshana Bean can say with certainty she’s mastered the art of the pivot.
The singer and actress was forced to scrap almost a year’s worth of concerts and appearances in March when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. One of the planned engagements was “Night Divine,” her holiday concert which has played to sold-out crowds at New York’s Apollo Theater since 2018.
Bean, however, managed to take the Apollo stage this fall ― albeit without a live audience ― for a reimagined version of the show that’s been captured for posterity as a gift for her fans worldwide. “Sing Your Hallelujah,” slated to debut Saturday, is a concert and documentary film hybrid comprised of high-octane musical numbers intercut with behind-the-scenes footage shot in vérité style. Broadway leading men Gavin Creel, Jeremy Jordan and Daniel J. Watts are among those joining Bean as special guests.
Catch a sneak peek at “Sing Your Hallelujah” via the trailer above.
“I wanted to create something that would be reflective of what this year has been, so I had no intentions of pretending we didn’t go through what we went through this year,” she told HuffPost. “I felt like we had an opportunity to crack the door open for people to reflect and grieve if they needed to, or heal, feel grateful and celebrate.”
“So many people have had to do without, and so many of us have lost jobs, homes and people we love,” she continued. “We’ve all had to reassess what’s important, so for me, it was important to strip away and get to the heart, like we’ve all had to.”
The centerpiece of the show is “We Still Have Christmas,” an original song in which Bean reflects on the simple moments in a scaled-down yuletide. And though holiday classics comprise most of the set, Bean eschewed the feel-good standards in favor of wistful songs like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” performed with Jordan. But fans of Bean’s signature belt ― employed to great effect during stints in Broadway’s “Hairspray” and “Wicked” ― needn’t fret, as her take on “O Holy Night” is all but guaranteed to stop the show.
One of Bean’s favorite moments in the show is Leonard Cohen’s “If It Be Your Will,” which speaks to her Jewish faith and is performed in trio with Creel and fellow actor and singer Shayna Steele. “It’s hard to find good Hanukkah songs, and the Hebrew song world could use some rebranding, respectfully,” she quipped. “But this feels like the words were taken from a psalm, or the way I recall prayers speaking about our relationship to God. ‘If it’s your will, I surrender. I’m just along for the ride.’ That’s been a major lesson for me this year.”
“Sing Your Hallelujah” will undoubtedly be remembered as the apex of Bean’s 2020 live performances. Spending so much time off the road, however, has been fruitful in the studio. In September, she released a three-song EP, “Selah,” featuring an acoustic take on Prince’s “Purple Rain.” In April, she appeared on the virtual Passover event “Saturday Night Seder” to perform the Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston duet “When You Believe” with Cynthia Erivo, later released as a single. She also made guest appearances on Jim Brickman’s “Brickman For Broadway Christmas” and “Hairspray” co-star Laura Bell Bundy’s forthcoming album, “Women of Tomorrow.”
Though eager to take the stage before a live audience once it’s safe, Bean said the past year has reminded her and other artists that “we’re so much more capable of connecting and making things happen than we thought we were.”
“Beautiful opportunities have continued to present themselves this year, so I have a lot of faith and trust in the way things will unfold,” she said as she looked ahead to 2021. “We’ve learned to do things in a new way, and I think that can carry over. I’ve got to take that as a win.”
“Sing Your Hallelujah” streams Saturday, Dec. 12.
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