Eva Noblezada: Broadway star brings 'Flower Power' to Feinstein's
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Something new is in store for the genteel cabaret audiences that frequent Feinstein's at the Nikko. On July 28-31, two-time Tony nominee Eva Noblezada will premiere a brand new solo set at the club ... and she'll be pole dancing.
Sure, she'll be singing as well. But the pole is where the 25-year-old performer will really let her hair down in the show she's calling Flower Power, which blossomed in the thick of the pandemic.
Like many stage performers, Noblezada saw her tightly scheduled eight-show-a-week routine suddenly evaporate when Broadway shut down last March. She'd been playing Eurydice, a role she originated, in the Best Musical Tony-winning Hadestown. Physically and psychologically, the screeching halt was rough on working actors.
Noblezada, who has spoken openly about past struggles with anxiety and depression, grabbed ahold of the pole to pull herself out of a dark place.
"At one point I really went into a funk for about three months," she told the Bay Area Reporter in a recent interview. "I was eating, watching a lot of movies and just generally losing my mind.
"I needed to find something to do with all the time. And I really don't know what specifically made it happen, but there was a moment when I just decided that I should try pole dancing. I've been obsessed with burlesque since I was a little kid, but I can't tell you why it suddenly came to the surface of my mind."
"Society sexualizes everything so much, but that's not what drew me to pole," Noblezada says of pole dancing. "It combines a sense of confidence and beauty in a way that feels so powerful to me. It's so much more than most people understand. Pole is a sport and a performance art."
"As I was really getting into it at home, I just started to think how cool it would be to just put together my dream show. All music that I love, an uplifting feeling, some laughs, and pole dancing, too."
Asked whether she's concerned about pole's tawdrier associations, the refreshingly frank Noblezada laughs aloud and says, "I don't give a fuck about stigma. Well, other than liking when it gets broken."
That said, she confides that before sharing any of her routines on Instagram, she opened a second account under her nom de pole, @MissMirage_pole, "to avoid my grandmother accidentally seeing them alongside family photos."
The support of her family has always been important to Noblezada, who had an early show business ally in an aunt, actress Annette Calud, who was a regular on Sesame Street when Noblezada was a child.
"I think I always knew I wanted to be some kind of performer," Noblezada recalls, "But I didn't know what. When I was quite young I had fantasies about singing opera. I don't know why, but, look, I also went through a phase when I thought I was a horse, so, childhood fantasies aren't particularly reliable."
From aisle to stage
"But I remember going to New York for the first time when I was nine years old," says Noblezada, who was raised in San Diego and later Charlotte, North Carolina. "My Auntie took me to my first Broadway show, which was The Lion King. I remember sitting there and watching all of the dancers come down the aisles as animals. It was flawless. I actually started crying and I just grabbed onto my aunt and through my tears I was like, 'This is what I want to do when I grow up.'"
In her junior year of high school, Noblezada earned a spot the finals of the Jimmys (the National High School Musical Theatre Awards). There, she was famously spotted by a casting director, which ultimately led to her leaving school and moving to London to play Kim in Cameron Mackintosh's 2014 revival of Miss Saigon, a part she went on to play on Broadway as well, earning her first Tony nomination. Almost simultaneously with Miss Saigon's closing on Broadway, Noblezada won her Hadestown role for that show's first major workshop. She's been attached to the show ever since, appearing in London prior to New York.
"Developing the character of Eurydice and then having the show become such a success has just been amazing," says Noblezada. Also fairly amazing is the fact that her character's love interest in the show, Orpheus, is played by Reeve Carney (the original Broadway Spiderman), who has become her real-life romantic partner as well.
Despite back-to-back Tony nominations for her first two Broadway shows, Noblezada says, "I don't know how much longer I will be on Broadway. If it's the right role, maybe. But I've been working a lot on writing my own music."
Noblezada says she won't publicly perform any of her originals until she has an album out, obliquely describing her style as "If Jessie Ware, Amy Winehouse and Ella Fitzgerald had a baby that was the Gypsy Rose Lee of 2021."
"I think an audience can feel it if I'm singing something I don't love," she says, explaining that show tunes aren't a big influence on her compositions or a significant presence in her cabaret show.
"When I'm doing a role, it's not me on stage, it's my character. I don't necessarily like the songs, personally. When I'm in my Eva clothes and outside of the theater I really don't like singing 'I'd Give My Life For You' [her Miss Saigon showstopper]. My show at Feinstein's will be all songs that I love, and that are written by women or identified with women singers."
The only musicals she repeatedly turned to on video during the pandemic —along with Ted Talks, scary movies, Harry Potter, and 'Grape Lady Falls' ("If you looked at my YouTube searches, you'd think I'm a psychopath") were the two Mamma Mia films.
"I know a lot of people think they're stupid," says the determinedly iconoclastic pole dancer and general rabble rouser, "But I just love them!"
Eva Noblezada at Feinstein's at the Nikko, July 28-31. 222 Mason St. $85. www.feinsteinssf.com
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