In the four years since she was first introduced to the world as a finalist on “American Idol,” Jennifer Hudson’s ascent has been so meteoric that the accolades heaped on her have practically preceded her actual accomplishments.
She does one movie (“Dreamgirls”) — and wins an Oscar.
She records one CD (“Jennifer Hudson”) and wins a Grammy.
But if the skeptics assumed that the movie and music industries had made 27-year-old Hudson a star before she really earned it, Tuesday night’s concert at the Fox Theatre proved them wrong.
In short, Hudson is a wonder. And not just because it is remarkable that she is once out in front of audiences mere months after her mother, brother and nephew were killed.
On the first night of her two-night stand in Atlanta (the second show is tonight), the relative newcomer arrived with an ease that never let on that this is her first solo tour ever.
She has a command of not only her own rather ordinary R&B material, but such greats as Aretha Franklin’s (“Something He Can Feel”), Chaka Khan’s (“Sweet Thing”) and Whitney Houston’s (“You Give Good Love”). And, most spectacularly, every song she sang seemed to emanate from this much older, wiser core layered with gospel heft and Broadway delivery.
Alas, Hudson wasn’t much about on-stage banter during her near hour-long set.
But it was clear from the standing ovation she received for her opening number, “One Night Only” from “Dreamgirls,” the ever-slimmer talent connected with fans. And for her bare-footed encore? Of course, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” the showstopper from “Dreamgirls.”
Singer Robin Thicke’s opening set was more of a disjointed affair. His musical pacing seemed off, as if he had to rush through his hour.
Three albums into his career and more established as a live performer, he seemed a bit less comfortable. Thicke struck statue-like poses at the microphone and repeatedly donned and doffed his leather jacket. Aside from his breakthrough hit, “Lost Without You,” he actually drew the biggest reactions performing material from others, including DeBarge (“All This Love”), Al Green (“Let’s Stay Together”) and Jodeci (“Come & Talk To Me”).
Screen on the Green Returns
First, the good news: On Wednesday, Turner Broadcasting confirmed that its popular Screen on the Green will return to the city this summer for a 10th season of weekly free films.
The bad news: due to lingering drought restrictions at Piedmont Park, the locale is once again the decidedly less lush Centennial Olympic Park downtown.
Here’s the 80s-centric, family-friendly line-up: May 28: “Back to the Future” (1985); June 4: “Dreamgirls” (2006); June 11: “Field of Dreams” (1989); June 18: “Home Alone” (1990).
Like 2008, Peachtree TV is allowing local film fans to select the season’s final offering. Your choices: “Big” (1988), “Ghostbusters” (1984) or “The Princess Bride” (1987). Through May 8, you can vote for your fave at peachtreetv.com.
Turner reps tell us this year’s series is presented by The Sunshine House, which offers specialized learning programs for young children, from infancy through the early school years.
As last year, moviegoers are welcome to bring picnic baskets and food, but no glass containers or alcoholic beverages can be brought into Centennial Olympic Park. Food and beverage vendors will be on hand. Doggies will not be allowed.
Quote of the Day
— WXIA news anchor Karen Greer, revealing to the social swans assembled Wednesday at Lenox Square’s Neiman Marcus for a Lela Rose fashion show where the models’ shoes came from. The penny-pinching revelation probably didn’t go over big with the NM suits who sponsored the event, which benefits Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Attendees included luxe handbag maven Jada Loveless, Stephanie Blank, Mary Frances Garrett, Monica Dioda and Joanne Chesler Gross.
Singer Bobby Vinton is 74. Singer Gerry Rafferty is 62. Midnight Oil singer-turned-politician Peter Garrett is 56. Actress Ellen Barkin is 55. Singer Jimmy Osmond is 46. Singer David Pirner of Soul Asylum is 45. Actor-comedian Martin Lawrence is 44. Actor Jon Cryer is 44. Actor Peter Billingsley (”A Christmas Story”) is 38. Actor Lukas Haas is 33.
Contributing: Sonia Murray, Jennifer Brett and news services.
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