Natascia Diaz, a Washington area favorite and two-time Helen Hayes Award-winning actress/singer, made her Strathmore debut last night in winning style, as part of the Strathmore’s Music in the Mansion series. Performing two back-to-back concerts, Natascia charmed her audiences with a thoughtful cabaret filled with songs that have meant something special to her over the years and that she enjoys singing. Natascia is well known to Washington area theater audiences, having performed in numerous productions including Kiss of the Spider Woman at Signature Theater, A Little Night Music and Carnival at The Kennedy Center, and Rooms and Jacques Brel is Alive and Well at MetroStage, the two musicals that won her two Helen Hayes Awards.
Poking fun at the fact that she is often cast in Latin roles, Natascia opened show with a delightful rendition of “Spanish Rose” from Bye Bye Birdie, a song made famous by the great Chita Rivera, of whom Natascia joked, “Anything she can do, I will do later.” Diaz demonstrates that sentiment later in the show with a spectacular take on Kander and Ebb’s song “Chief Cook and Bottle Washer,” which Rivera sang in their show The Rink.
Natascia, having sung in the acclaimed Off-Broadway Cy Coleman review, The Best is Yet to Come, showcased some of that composer’s tunes including “With Every Breath I Take” from City of Angels and a lovely lesser-known song that Coleman intended to put into Sweet Charity called “If There Were More People Like You.”
Having performed in productions of Jacquel Brel is Alive and Well in both New York and more recently at MetroStage in Alexandria, Natascia sang a really beautiful version of “My Childhood.” Natascia also featured a few songs by recent composer John Bucchino (known for composing the Broadway musical, A Catered Affair): “Painting My Kitchen,” “Love Quiz,” and “I’ve Learned to Let Things Go.”
Ms. Diaz, looking beautiful in a stunning orange dress, took time to honor both of her parents, her father and opera singer Justino Diaz and her mother prima ballerina, Anna Aragno, as having had a tremendous influence on her career choices. She explained how she was nervous about doing cabaret performances because they make her feel “naked” and real on stage without a role to hide behind, but that Matthew Gardiner at Signature Theatre had encouraged her to venture into this territory a few years back. She is very grateful he did.
Other highlights of this wonderful cabaret included “I Miss the Mountains” from Next to Normal, “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas (for which Diaz had auditioned her voice). Natascia finished with a rousing version of “Cabaret” that had me hoping she would appear in an area revival of that musical in the near future. Her encore was a lush rendition of the Oscar-winning Best Song “It Goes Like It Goes” from the film Norma Rae.
Darius Smith did a tremendous job accompanying Diaz on the piano. Darius is a musical director and composer-lyricist who has also done a lot of work in the DC area including musical directing Dreamgirls at Signature Theater.
Natascia and Darius gave audiences another magical night of music in the Strathmore Mansion.
Running Time: 75 minutes, with no intermission.
Natascia Diaz Presented by Strathmore played on January 25, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at the Mansion at Strathmore – 10701 Rockville Pike, in North Bethesda, MD. For future events at Strathmore check their calendar of events.