Please give a Meep-worthy welcome to Armand O'Bryan, a friend IRL who shares an appreciation with me for nom de plumes. Friday the 8th, we both attended Baltimore Vocal Arts Foundation's latest cabaret. Now, for a word from our guest blogger!
Cabarets and dinner theater are not usually the places I expect to find innovative programming, but I was pleasantly surprised by the Baltimore Vocal Arts Foundation July 8th at Germano's Trattoria in Little Italy.
Titled "Journeys - A Cabaret About The Places Life Takes You", this mini-production, lightly staged in the compact confines of Germano's Cabaret room, featured a highly eclectic combination of song literature, thematically tracing aspects of the emotional journey from cradle to grave. At first glance I thought I might find the juxtaposition of art song and Broadway ballad or blues unsettling, but for the most part this was not the case. Some repertoire combinations worked better than others, the most successful being Laura Stuart's rather amazing stylistic metamorphosis as she moved from Massenet's challenging "Je suis encore" from Manon, to a full out Broadway belt rendition of "Here I Am" from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels'".
All the artists exhibited a surprising degree of stylistic versatility, switching easily between classical and contemporary repertoire. Some stand out moments included baritone Michael J. Begley's rendition of "How Many Miles" from Kurt Weil's Lost In The Stars, soprano Adrienne Webster's bluesy, heart wrenching singing of Leslie Adam's "The Heart of A Woman", and Robyn Stevens' transcendent rendition of Rorem's "Ferry Me Across The Water". While I found the placing of "For Good" at the end of the program a little too blatant an appeal for knee jerk water works, and the encore audience sing-along of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" tacky, I still have to applaud the tender and tasteful interpretation of Schwartz offered by Stuart and Webster, whose performance left me thinking: "how nice to hear this sung by real voices".
For a company that's only a year old, BVAF has done an impressive job, establishing presence and high performance quality. I've been lucky enough to attend and work for a number of their shows over the past year, and their latest show, Journey's, is just proof to me that they're going to keep getting better.
We Sing, We Dance, We Go Home Happy,
-Maria (and Armand!)