Review by Nola Bartolo
Masha Mnjoyan accompanied with the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra took on the daunting responsibility of performing none other than the legendary late, great Whitney Houston. I was not sure that this could be done as I had some reservations. I mean how could you not. It could go either way. Whitney is undoubtedly one of the greatest pop icons of our generation and clearly adored by Masha - winner of ‘The Voice’ Armenia and Finalist ‘The Voice’ Australia 2020. Under the expert musical direction of George Ellis, I was reassured that the evening would be a rounding success. And it was.
Masha earned a standing ovation after turning the chairs of all four judges during her blind audition on ‘The Voice’ Australia. Masha earned another standing ovation with this tribute to Whitney Houston. She opened the night with an upbeat ‘Queen of the Night’ and then moved into some lesser-known tracks. It was clear that Masha was a little nervous tackling such an enormous task. She was quite chatty between songs and frequently talked about how hard it was to sing Whitney’s songs let alone twice in one day. She had had a matinee earlier. I have to agree with her. She started off well but a little shaky, then went on to hit a high note with ‘I Have Nothing’ I had goosebumps and tears were rolling down my cheeks. If you closed your eyes you could almost, almost be listening to Whitney Houston herself. Masha finished off the first half of the evening with an upbeat ‘How Will I Know’.
Overall, the first half of the evening was pretty good. However, Masha came back after the interval with a new outfit, energy and a confidence that blew it out of the park. The second half of the show was jam packed with hit after hit. We all got up and danced and sang with Masha as she absolutely engaged with everyone in the audience. Masha got off from the stage and walked or should I say danced her way through the audience. Along with her incredible voice her personality beamed, and her energy connected with each and every one of us in the audience. We screamed for more.
The biggest moment however was in ‘I Will Always Love You’ and my God what a moment. Masha is an extremely talented artist, and her craft was on show with this song. Amazing and not an easy feat. She was composed and held herself with elegance and grace. At one point and it was a very big point, someone in the audience tried a big note in a quiet moment and Masha was so natural in her reaction and laughed. I wasn’t sure if she could recompose herself and finish the track, but she did.
A special mention to the Orchestra and the back-up singers. A standout for me was the saxophonist. Bravo.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable night whereby I witnessed a very talented woman pay homage to the incredible songs of Whitney Houston. You could feel the love in the room for Masha and Whitney. I look forward to seeing what Masha does next.