THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY
Independent Reviewers of New England Award: Best Actress in a Musical
JENNIFER ELLIS' POWERFUL PERFORMANCE LIFTS THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY
"In a sense, she does for the musical adaptation of “Bridges’’ what Meryl Streep did for the 1995 film version.
Throughout “Bridges,’’ Ellis communicates the ache of desire — not just of the sexual kind, but also Francesca’s yearning for a more fulfilling existence than fate has so far handed her."
- Don Aucoin, THE BOSTON GLOBE
ELLIS A REVELATION IN THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY
"I am not sure I’ve ever seen a performer as thoroughly convincing in a role as the radiant, yet heartbreakingly vulnerable Jennifer Ellis. Her portrayal of Francesca has just upped the ante in musical theater acting. Every moment she’s onstage you feel like you are witnessing real-time events. And what a gorgeous voice! If nothing else about this production sounds appealing to you, you owe it to yourself to go and at least witness this remarkable performance."
- Michele Markarian, NEW ENGLAND THEATER GUIDE
"BRIDGES marks yet another triumph for the actress Jennifer Ellis…the best performance of a Jason Robert Brown score in Boston in recent memory."
- Rich Fahey, ON BOSTON STAGES
"Jennifer Ellis as Francesca and Christiaan Smith as Robert give full expression to the show's spirited excursion. Ellis and Smith display real chemistry during each rendezvous… A pair of musical leads unmatched thus far this year. Her moving narrative about her Italian former boyfriend Paolo and her impulsive sister make the standout song "Almost Real" a high. Ellis stunningly captures Francesca's deep inner life, her passion for Robert and her undying devotion to her family."
- Jules Becker, SOUTH END NEWS
MY FAIR LADY
Elliot Norton Award: Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Independent Reviewers of New England Award: Best Actress in a Musical
Featured in the Wall Street Journal’s The Best Theater of 2015
"The good news starts at the top: Jennifer Ellis is as strong an Eliza Doolittle as I’ve seen anywhere, including on screen. She sings beautifully and acts without exaggeration, leaving it to the score and script to work their magic. Ms. Ellis personif[ies] the approach that Scott Edmiston, the director, describes in his program note: “We have shifted the focus from spectacle to character.” What you get, in other words, is not so much “My Fair Lady” as Shaw’s “Pygmalion” with songs—and what songs!"
- Terry Teachout, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
ELLIS LIGHTS UP LYRIC STAGE'S MY FAIR LADY
"For all of the feistiness, humor, and vocal virtuosity Ellis brings to the role, her characterization of Eliza is grounded in a certain poignancy. What is suggested by the subtle play of emotions across Ellis’ expressive face is that Eliza knows that her hold on dignity and a sense of self-worth is precarious in a world seemingly intent on depriving her of both.
Yet that awareness is balanced with Eliza’s joyous discovery of new possibilities, communicated beautifully by Ellis in her soaring rendition of “I Could Have Danced All Night’’ and such anthems of defiance as “Just You Wait’’ and “Without You.’’ This production really lights up when Ellis is at center stage."
- Don Aucoin, THE BOSTON GLOBE
"Ellis is absolutely luminous as Eliza Doolittle… Ellis portrays Eliza with an unadorned sincerity that makes the familiar “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” sound brand new, while her beautiful soprano makes “I Could Have Danced All Night” thrilling all over again."
- Terry Byrne, THE ARTS FUSE
"Much-in-demand Jennifer Ellis takes her considerable skills to a new level with a performance that is at once humorous, heartbreaking, and triumphant… Ellis' singular voice weaves new magic from the beautiful Lerner and Loewe score. Ellis' performance will stay with you long after they turn out the lights on 27A Wimpole Street. She transforms from a dirty-faced, Cockney-spewing "guttersnipe" who talks tougher than she is, to a beautiful, elegant, confident lady with impeccable manners who speaks the King's English like a native. The achievement is her authenticity and credibility in both aspects of the role, but the crowning glory is her renditions of the musical numbers. Ellis may transform herself, but she also transports the audience from the moment she opens her mouth to sing."
It doesn't matter who sang these songs before; Ellis makes them her own.
- Nancy Grossman for BROADWAYWORLD.COM
"This will be a tough ticket in the weeks ahead, largely on the strength of the incredible performance of its lead, Jennifer Ellis. She delivers a multi-layered performance that showcases so much more than her stunning beauty and amazing vocals, and elevates this well-staged production into the 'must-see' stratosphere for Boston theatergoers. Ellis brings this production to its lofty heights. As the "pre-lady" Eliza Doolittle, she displays the same comic gifts that many of us witnessed in "Out of Sterno" at the Gloucester Stage this summer (particularly during the opening scene and on "Just You Wait"). As a vocalist, Ellis is unmatched among lead actresses now treading Boston's stages. Using a baseball analogy, she's what scouts call a five-tool player, and all those tools are beautifully on display in this production."
- Mike Hoban, BOSTON EVENTS INSIDER
"The dazzling presence in the excellent cast is Jennifer Ellis, the beautiful soprano who has played many leading roles in Boston theaters over the past few years. As the flower girl Eliza, plopped down on a box at Covent Garden, she is gauche, outspoken, and sassy-mouthed, but also longing for the comforts of a "room somewhere, far away from the cold night air." It's to Ellis' credit that the essential personality of Eliza is present from beginning to end, even as she is groomed into a "consort fit for a king," as Higgins promises."
- Iris Fanger, THEATERMANIA
"The ravishing Jennifer Ellis stars as Eliza Doolittle. She’s funny, feisty, and charming all at once, with cheekbones that could cut glass and a complexion that lights up the street where she lives. She stuns in stripes at Ascot, and astonishes in amethyst at the ball! But most of all she acts with an urgency that takes your breath away, and believably lights a fire under the dismissive professor."
- Joyce Kulhawik, JOYCE'S CHOICES
"There are few things as enchanting as rediscovering a once familiar musical through a new perspective. Jennifer Ellis’ strong-willed Eliza Doolittle is not only a delight to watch, but a masterpiece of style and grace... This My Fair Lady feels even more accessible because of the nuanced acting by Ellis. From her first entrance, Ellis delivers a bounty of energy and power to her Eliza Doolittle. Her Eliza commands the stage with a carefree presence, but she always carries a glint in her eye for the potential to show her strength when challenged. Her dexterity as a singer is only matched by her command of the dialect and the slow evolution of her enunciation and diction to the Standard English we know and love. Luckily, we can enjoy the full rich and luxurious elegance of Ellis’ clear and articulate soprano in her “I Could Have Danced All Night.” We could have listened all night. Ellis plays her Eliza with commitment and poise, charm and elegance, struggle and triumph, that she is a treat to applaud and cheer with each crowd-pleasing number."
- Brian Michael Balduzzi, ARTSIMPULSE
"Ellis, although already acclaimed for her local performances in such works as “Far from Heaven”, “City of Angels” and “Urinetown”, is a revelation here. She's a smoldering powerhouse, a very uncommon commoner indeed, and you can't take your eyes off her."
- Jack Craib, THE SOUTH SHORE CRITIC
"There’s so very much that works well in the Lyric’s powerhouse of a production. Jennifer Ellis who exhibits great technical skill while enacting the impoverished flower girl’s transformation into a social climber who can pull off a deadpan impression of a haughty aristocrat. Her facial contortions as Eliza struggles to ditch her Cockney accent are priceless."
- Jeremy Goodwin, WBUR
MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG
Featured in the Wall Street Journal’s The Best Theater of 2017
Independent Reviewers of New England Award Nomination: Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
"Maria Friedman’s splendid, London-born revival of “Merrily We Roll Along,” from Boston’s Huntington Theater Company— is exhilarating. Long regarded as one of the beautiful and damned misfits of the Sondheim canon, this portrait of the slippery road to success in mid-20th-century Manhattan has never seemed more emotionally resonant, or more gratifyingly fulfilled. The pain that courses through Ms. Friedman’s “Merrily We Roll Along” is authentic enough to keep its audience bathed in tears."
- Ben Brantley, The New York Times
"Mr. Sondheim himself calls Maria Friedman’s 2012 London revival "the best I've ever seen." Far be it from me to disagree: This is certainly the best “Merrily” I’ve seen, a staging so clear and confident that you’ll go home from the theater wondering why the new version has yet to make it to Broadway."
- Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal
"Ellis delivers a rendition of “Not a Day Goes By’’ that is both shattered and shattering."
- Don Aucoin, The Boston Globe
"Ellis nearly stops the show with her two versions of “Not a Day Goes By”... The first time we see Ellis it’s 1967, Beth is in the midst of her nasty divorce from Frank, she sings “Not a Day Goes By” with anguish that turns to fury and then despair. In the second act, she sings the song again, this time as her wedding vows to Frank. The song now is filled with such hope and love, it’s even more heartbreaking, since we know where this marriage is headed."
- Terry Byrne, WBUR the ARTery
SHEAR MADNESS NYC
"Barbara (Jennifer Ellis), the perfect gum-chewing Brooklynite, never had the opportunity to sing. But she didn’t have to. Her voice has won high praise from critics around the country for roles such as Eliza in My Fair Lady. Her versatility is that of the consummate pro. If she never worked as a hairdresser, you’d never know it. Her walk and body language was perfect and would have raised the temperature of any teenage boy in any Brooklyn high school."
- NEW YORK LIFESTYLES MAGAZINE
FAR FROM HEAVEN
ELLIS SHINES " Jennifer Ellis could scarcely be better in SpeakEasy Stage Company’s “Far From Heaven. She delivers an exquisite performance as a 1950s Hartford housewife whose cosseted existence simultaneously falls apart and opens up. Skillfully traversing the emotional spectrum in her portrayal of Cathy Whitaker, Ellis is a marvel. Cathy wears a bright prom-queen smile, as if she hopes the appearance of good cheer can lead to its actuality and stave off threats to her domestic stability... But from the start there’s a tremulous edge to her expression, and part of Ellis’s achievement is to artfully adjust Cathy’s smile, in degree and in kind, as change starts flooding into her life. Every moment rings true in this performance, from Cathy’s quiet devastation at the collapse of her marriage to the way she reaches for the possibility of new love with an African-American gardener named Raymond Deagan, played by Maurice Emmanuel Parent."
- THE BOSTON GLOBE
"Jennifer Ellis is captivating in this lush musical adaptation of Todd Haynes’ acclaimed romantic melodrama...
one of the best musical-theater voices of her generation."
- WBUR ARTERY
"In the hands of Jennifer Ellis this show is superb. From the moment she steps on stage you feel for her and you want to experience her idealism and her notions of what it means to be a perfect family, the perfect wife, the perfect mother. As the realities of her life and her rapidly changing situation settle upon her - you see it wash over her. She is such a star in the making here- this is such a fantastic role for
her -- and she has a tremendous voice on top of all of it."
"Elegantly beautiful, Jennifer Ellis shines as the star of the show. Demonstrating sorrow, inner turmoil and grace,
she is a theatrical and musical presence."
- BERKSHIRE FINE ARTS
FAR FROM HEAVEN FEATURES A GLOWING STAR
"What stands out the most by far in SpeakEasy's production of the musical "Far from Heaven" is Jennifer Ellis' natural radiance as the female lead, Cathy Whitaker. She and her performance are pretty darn close to heaven. She has a huge, warm smile and an ease that transcends the gossip, bickering, and worse that pervades her friends and acquaintances in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1957. [She is] a sheer joy to watch from beginning to end, even as the world around her collapses and her."
- WICKED LOCAL
"At the center of it all is housewife Cathy Whitaker, played by Jennifer Ellis, who has had quite a year indeed, breaking your heart in Stoneham’s “The Secret Garden,” and earning standing ovations in “Jacques Brel” at the Gloucester Stage Company. This time she is superb as an outwardly happy married housewife, the mother of two children, who finds her grip on happiness loosening by the day."
- ON BOSTON STAGES
"Jennifer Ellis in the title role as Cathy Whitaker is superb. Her neverending smile, right out of a fifties fashion magazine, is all about the presumed upbeatness of that era. It was a decade smitten with its own relief from war and depression and elevated into a space of buoyancy and considerable superficiality. But Ellis plays it, though smilingly, with a genuine naive buoyancy that seems to fit. Her smiling is about optimism, even though the world is crumbling around her. And, only in the end, when that smile does begin to fade and to show the creases of realism, it becomes penetrating and heartbreaking."
- BOSTON ARTS DIARY
"Heavenly Jennifer Ellis Shines: Many actors shine, but few as brightly and brilliantly as Jennifer Ellis as Cathy Whitaker. ...The songs are beautifully sung by the rising star Jennifer Ellis, especially the opening “Autumn in Connecticut” (what range, what control). The standout star is Jennifer Ellis, who is breathtakingly beautiful and chilling in this role. She plays a woman who yearns to understand herself and her world a bit better, and she is held back by society and its expectations. The struggle is manifested in Ellis’ face, which she portrays wonderfully whether in song or dialogue. Her effortless chemistry with the rest of the cast makes her rise above the rest.
- MY ENTERTAINMENT WORLD
"From the moment the radiant Cathy (Jennifer Ellis) comes onstage and sings a glowing tribute to autumn in her home state of Connecticut, you know she's headed for a fall... Jennifer Ellis shines as Cathy. Her essence is so undeniably good that when her husband strikes her and she starts to cry, you just want to cry with her. Despite her naivete, there's something about Ellis's Cathy that has the audience rooting for her, even as her world is crumbling."
- BOSTON EVENTS INSIDER
"[Ellis] makes Cathy as stunning and emotionally warm as Julianne Moore did on screen.
- NEW ENGLAND ENTERTAINMENT DIGEST
"It's a picture-perfect world when the lovely Donna Reed-like housewife Cathy Whitaker (the luminous Jennifer Ellis) sings the joyous "Autumn in Connecticut" to open SpeakEasy Stage Company's lush and lovely production of FAR FROM HEAVEN... Her performance ranks among the best this reviewer has seen in Boston in many years. Ellis' eyes glisten with a passionate ache to be loved. Ellis glides effortlessly from one emotion to the next, and when she sings (quite beautifully, in fact) it is with a simple honesty that exposes every tender nerve... a magnificent performance by Jennifer Ellis.
- BROADWAY WORLD
OUT OF STERNO
"[Ellis] jettisoned her glamorous image to portray Zena, a hilariously hard-bitten beauty shop operator in “Out of Sterno’’ at Gloucester Stage... “Out of Sterno’’ allows the gifted and glamorous Jennifer Ellis to tap into her inner Fran Drescher — who knew? — as Zena, the brassy owner of a beauty “emporium’’ in the fictional town of Sterno. Clad in skin-tight leopard-skin pants and three-colored high heels, Ellis’s Zena is a human volcano of self-confidence and self-regard. Ellis appears to be having a ball channeling the primal crudeness of Zena, a sharp departure from the elegant characters she portrayed in SpeakEasy Stage Company’s “Far From Heaven,’’ Stoneham Theatre’s “The Secret Garden,’’ and Lyric Stage Company’s “City of Angels.’’ ...An indelible performance by Jennifer Ellis."
- THE BOSTON GLOBE
COLLINS, ELLIS SHINE IN GLOUCESTER’S ‘OUT OF STERNO
"Jennifer Ellis [was] a revelation in a completely different role as beauty parlor owner Zena. Resplendent in her skintight pants, loud platform heels, and big hair, Zena has been married five times and is casting her net again for a sixth husband."
- ON BOSTON STAGES
"Jennifer Ellis is hot and hilarious as sexpot hairdresser Zena... Collins and Ellis have great onstage chemistry, and first-rate timing."
- WICKED LOCAL
"Ellis is a hoot as the confident, more sophisticated city mouse to Collins' country mouse. She wears lots of makeup, sports a beehive hairdo, and is virtually poured into her form-fitting capri pants and décolletage-revealing blouses. She balances atop five-inch spike heels, allowing her to showcase her svelte figure that attracts Hamel's wandering eye. Ellis seamlessly portrays Zena's tough exterior as business owner and world-weary divorcée, as well as her nurturing side that takes Dotty under her wing."
- TALKIN' BROADWAY