For millions around the world, Keala Settle will always be associated with Lettie Lutz, the bearded lady in The Greatest Showman, responsible for a song that has become one of the great anthems of this century. While this was the role that brought her worldwide fame, Keala Settle has extensive Broadway credits including Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables and Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray, and in the latest instalment of Seth Rudetsky’s concert series we learned more about this exceptionally talented performer.

Exceptionally talented may even be an understatement for Settle, the performer has incredible control over her voice and every song performed in the concert was pitch perfect.  As a reminder, The Seth Concert Series is broadcast live, with Seth in New York and his guest in their own home, but Settle couldn’t have sounded any better in Radio City Music Hall.

Keala Settle grew up in Hawaii, and she told us stories of growing up with the Disney Channel, in fact the opening number of the concert was ‘Just One Dream’ from Disney’s Californian Adventure.  While other kids played, Keala and her Mom would visit the mall, where Keala could record audio and video tapes of herself singing, it was clear from an early age how talented she was.

Her younger years were influenced by the movies of Betty Grable, Grease and The Pirates of Penzance.  All three were to be featured in the concert with ‘I Had The Craziest Dream’, (a song she’s aspired to sing since childhood), ‘There Are Worse Things I Could Do’ and ‘Poor Wandering One’ in which Settle hit a high D – that’s the one they say can shatter glass!

Settle’s Broadway debut was in Pricilla Queen of the Desert but she earned critical acclaim, and a Tony nomination for Hands on a Hardbody, a musical based on a documentary about people trying to win a truck, and Settle performed ‘I’m Gone’ from the show.

While not a Madame Thenardier song, Les Mis did feature with an absolutely stunning rendition of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’. But it wasn’t all musical theatre numbers in this concert, songs which inspired and shaped Keala Settle’s life were heavily featured, including ‘If I Had My Way’ and ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Business.’

The song that she is most well known for, ‘This Is Me’, didn’t feature, but Settle gave a hugely heartfelt and tearful insight in to how the song has affected her.  While it has provided comfort to countless people across the world, it remains difficult for Settle to accept the message herself.

She made strides towards it though on a trip to London, it was seeing Rosalie Craig as Bobbie, in the gender switched production of Company that became a “turning point” for her, and Settle paid tribute by singing ‘Being Alive’.

Any episode of The Seth Concert series is a special moment for anyone who is a fan of the guest, but this one felt even more memorable.  Keala Settle’s concert felt more personal and intimate, and the vocals were simply flawless, an absolute joy and privilege to watch.

Upcoming guests in The Seth Concert Series include LaChanze and Lillias White.  Tickets are on sale here.

Greg is an award-winning writer with a huge passion for theatre. He has appeared on stage, as well as having directed several plays in his native Scotland. Greg is the founder and editor of Theatre Weekly

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