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"Mr. De Shields is a tireless performer. His stylized, rhythmic patter keeps the momentum of the performance building, and his singing, in a voice that seems to relish every full syllable, runs the gamut of shadings," raved New York Times jazz and pop critic John S. Wilson in August 1980. The occasion was André De Shields' cabaret act "Maximum Contrast" at the Grand Finale on Manhattan's upper west side.


40 years later, that same review could have described De Shields' sold-out show for Lincoln Center's "American Songbook" series. He has a seductive and spellbinding allure, conveying just as much through gazes and gestures as melodies and lyrics. Watching De Shields command the stage, audiences can even glimpse elements of the characters he originated on Broadway. The Wiz (The Wiz), the Viper (Ain't Misbehavin'), and Hermes (Hadestown) course through his blood like the songs he sings. 


Three nights before De Shields brought some sizzle to a wintry January night in New York, the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Hadestown (2019) won the GRAMMY Award for "Best Musical Theater Album". It was the latest triumph for De Shields and his portrayal of Hermes, a role that also helped Hadestown win the 2019 Tony Award for "Best Musical" and brought De Shields a Tony Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, and Drama Desk Award for "Best Featured Actor in a Musical". Indeed, De Shields contours his characterization of Hermes with regal grace ...


[Click to read more in André De Shields' interview with Christian John Wikane for PopMatters.]

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