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Death Comes for the War Poets is a beautiful demonstration of poetry in motion. Weaving together work from several well known poets, Joseph Pearce creates a unique telling of two World War I poets and soldiers, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, and their relationship to death.

Using the poetry of Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Gerard Manley Hopkins, T.S. Eliot, and G.K. Chesterton, playwright Joseph Pearce tells the story of Sassoon’s journey from the trenches of World War I to his conversion to Catholicism later in life. The play begins with Death (Sarah Naughton) as she sends soldiers off to war. Siegfried Sassoon (Nicholas Carriere) uses his writing to express his discontent with the war and uses his poetry to reveal the horrors of trench warfare. Wilfred Owen (Michael Raver) does the same, and when the two meet, they dialogue (in verse of course) about their war experiences.

The actors transform every poetic verse into details of the characters’ lives, and they give voice to the visceral poetry of war. A moment in which Michael Raver, who plays Owen, details his experience of men in the trenches is particularly powerful. Through Nicholas Carriere we watch Sassoon grow old in both his manner and his words, and his interpretation and delivery of the verse is captivating. As he finds peace in the shelter of the Catholic church, we see his relationship with Death change. As Death, Sarah Naughton is mysterious, playful and omniscient. She is seductive in the sense that she knows no man can avoid Death’s kiss, and also forgiving of the fact that most men do not want it. Perhaps the strangest thing that she does is dance, this and her mesmerizing singing voice add a surreal and haunting feel to Death’s presence.

The production elements are bare and effective. Connor C. Munion’s set design is a symbolic, empty space that serves the delivery of poetry. On a platform shaped like a cross, director Peter Dobbins creates some intriguing stage pictures though I do wish the final moments were played in the center of the platform, so as not to cut half the audience off from beautiful ending.  Projections (designed by Joey Moro) on pieces of a broken church wall depict images of soldiers, war propaganda, and weather. The lighting (by Michael Abrams) and sound (by Kenneth Goodwin) were impressive and technically speaking the cues were sharp.

As a revelation of such visceral poetry, and as a commemoration of artists and soldiers, Death Comes for the War Poets is a moving theatrical piece of poetry in and of itself.

Death Comes for the War Poets: Blackfriars Repertory Theatre and The Strom Theatre Company, Sheen Center (Black Box), 18 Bleecker Street. Runs June 9-24.

Virginia Jimenez is a writer, dancer and teaching artist in New York City. She teaches for various companies focusing on dancing for musical theatre, ballroom dancing, theatrical skills and story building. Bringing arts education to students in NYC is incredibly rewarding for her because she is passionate about arts integration and using the arts to facilitate an emotional education. As a writer, Virginia believes in the power of words and stories to challenge and encourage audiences to seek growth and modes of expression. She likes tequila and ice cream - though not necessarily together. www.vmjimenez.com

Cabaret

My View: Why CAN’T A Woman…? This Woman Can…Lianne Marie Dobbs

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The actor Lianne Marie Dobbs played a 1900’s woman in the HBO series The Gilded Age. You also might have seen her in Law & Order, The Equalizer and F.B.I., but yesterday at Chelsea Tables + Stage she wasn’t just playing the part of a Cabaret singer!  Ms. Dobbs is the real deal, and she captivated an audience of music connoisseurs with her formidable vocal talents and wit in her show titled “Why CAN’T a Woman…? 

Lianne’s cabaret act utilizes Broadway leading men’s songs and sassy standards, served up with a twist of SHE, to celebrate all the hats that women wear, and she answered the shows question authoritatively….This woman sure can!

Lianne Marie Dobbs was named one of the Best Vocalists of the Decade (BroadwayWorld, 2020) and has filled The Green Room 42, 54Below, Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael, Feinstein’s at the Nikko, Blue Strawberry in St. Louis, and will be featured in Chicago’s Cabaret Week later in May.  “Why CAN’T a Woman…?” was named one of the best cabaret shows of the year (2022) by BroadwayWorld, and called “an honest to goodness emerging work of art”.  She has appeared in leading roles Off-Broadway, in National Tours, and at renowned theaters such as Denver Center, Repertory of St. Louis, Ogunquit Playhouse, Goodspeed and many more.

Ron Abel is Lianne’s music director and arranger, whose accolades include: LA Critics Circle Award Winner and L.A. Weekly Award Winner for his original compositions and unique arrangements of Broadway hits for orchestras and singers. He has been the music director for acclaimed vocalists such as Lucie Arnaz, Peter Allen, Joely Fisher, Valarie Pettiford, Julia Migenes, Helen Reddy, and John Lloyd Young.

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE

CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE

STANDING OVATION

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & CAROLE J. BUFFORD

PAUL KREPPEL, RON ABEL, EDA SOROKOFF, MURPHY CROSS

EDA SOROKOFF & TAKAKO HARKNESS

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Columns

My View: An Evening With Jason Robert Brown…One Evening Isn’t Enough

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The 92NY Lyrics & Lyricists presented An Evening with Jason Robert Brown last night.  Although it would take many evenings to appreciate the totality and brilliance of the triple Tony Award winner’s body of work, Mr. Brown together with his exceptional band of musicians and guest artists Mykal Kilgore and Heidi Blickenstaff thrilled an overflow audience in it’s Kaufman Concert Hall during the 2 hour show.  In contrast to many great composer/lyricists who have minimal performance capabilities, JRB is an exciting personality on stage both vocally and conversationally, and his fearless technique on the piano is reminiscent of  George Gershwin or Marvin Hamlisch when playing their own works.

Full Disclosure:

I’ve been a JRB fan since my daughter Caroline in the 1980’s wrote us a letter from Camp French Woods saying..”I can’t wait for you to come on Visiting day and hear my friend Jason play the piano.

JASON ROBERT BROWN

JASON ROBERT BROWN

JASON ROBERT BROWN

JASON ROBERT BROWN

DANIELLE LEE GREAVES, TASHA MICHELLE, JASON ROBERT BROWN

MYKAL KILGORE

JASON ROBERT BORWN & MYKAL KILGORE

JASON ROBERT BORWN & MYKAL KILGORE

JASON ROBERT BROWN & MYKAL KILGORE

HEIDI BLICKENSTAFF

HEIDI BLICKENSTAFF

JASON ROBERT BROWN & HEIDI BLICKENSTAFF

JASON ROBERT BROWN & HEIDI BLICKENSTAFF

JASON ROBERT BROWN

HEIDI BLICKENSTAFF, JASON ROBERT BROWN, MYKAL KILGORE

AN EVENING WITH JASON ROBERT BROWN at 92NY

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Cabaret

My View: The City Was Special Last Night….Melissa Errico at 54 Below

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The evening at 54 Below was advertised as a “ Vinyl Release Celebration Concert” and how apt that VINYL, the unrivaled substance utilized to capture the subtle nuances and breadth of music has now been used to capture the elegant voice of Melissa Errico singing the songs of  “Sondheim in the City” for posterity. 

Caveat: While Vinyl may capture in analog glory the beautiful notes and words of Melissa, one must be in her presence to experience her irrepressible beauty, wit, and intelligence on stage.

Melissa Errico….Sondheim In The City Vinyl Release Celebration at 54 Below May 7,8,9…..

Tedd Firth Music Director, David Finck (Bass), Eric Halvorson (Drums) Bruce Harris (Trumpet)

About the show:

After the critical triumph of her Sondheim Sublime album-called “the finest all Sondheim recording ever made” by the Wall Street Journal, Melissa Errico returned to one of her cabaret homes (54 Below) last night and to her favorite songwriter with an entire new program of Sondheim songs, celebrating her new album (released February 16, 2024 on Concord) and a different side of Steve, praised in The New York Times as “a New York house tour of thrill and heartbreak..from one of Sondheim’s deepest-hearted yet lightest-touch interpreters.”

Sondheim in the City is the Sondheim of smart, sophisticated New York, the Sondheim of the quick, witty, sardonic, love-seeking and sex-driven city that he recorded and worked in through his long life. From the anthem of city busyness “Another Hundred People” to the bittersweet hymns of city marriage, “Sorry, Grateful” and “Good Thing Going,” with time for hardboiled surprises like “Uptown, Downtown” and surprisingly soft-centered ballads like “All That I Need” and “Dawn”

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO & TEDD FIRTH, music director

54 Below, Eda Sorokoff

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Columns

My View: A Night To Remember..The New York Pops Gala Honoring Clive Davis

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Sometimes words just do not suffice and, last night, The New York Pops Annual Gala which honored Clive Davis would fit into this category. The orchestra, led by the esteemed and popular conductor, Steven Reineke, was ablaze for artist after artist, star after star, setting the place on fire! One of the most thrilling nights New York audiences and supporters could ever have hoped for. New York always delivers. So The New York Pops. Bravo and Congratulations

On a personal note, at our table… sharing the evening with my daughters Caroline and Laura, our friends Catherine Adler, Helmut Koller, Greg and Penny Sherry kids, and Storm Large made a special evening even more special.

Here are a few cell phone photos:

CAROLINE SOROKOFF, STEPHEN SOROKOFF, EDA SOROKOFF, LAURA SOROKOFF GELMAN

STEPHEN SOROKOFF, EDA SOROKOFF, HELMUT KOLLER, CATHERINE ADLER

CAROLINE SOROKOFF, LAURA SOROKOFF GELMAN, STORM LARGE, EDA SOROKOFF

NANCY PELOSI & MAESTRO STEVEN REINEKE

RIKI KANE LARIMER AND FRIENDS

ERIC GABBARD, EDA SOROKOFF, STORM LARGE

PAULO SZOT & EDA SOROKOFF

STORM LARGE

CARNEGIE HALL

CARNEGIE HALL

STEVEN REINEKE

BARRY MANILOW

MY GIRLS

STORM LARGE & RIKI KANE LARIMER

EDA SOROKOFF & ARI MELBER

CLIVE DAVIS

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Cabaret

My View: Cafe Centro Hosts…. The New Belters Sing MGM…..Seth Sikes & Nicolas King ENTERTAIN!

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The Fisher/Sorokoff curated Cabaret season at Cafe Centro concluded last night with Nicolas King and Seth Sikes, aka THE NEW BELTERS.

These extraordinary entertainers have been exciting audiences around the country since they first paired their singing talents and created a swinging musical masterpiece in 2022. Nicolas and Seth have their own individual, respective careers and come from what would seem like different orbits. But, actually, it turns out, maybe not so much, because when they come together as THE NEW BELTERS, a special kind of energy force forms and it’s reminiscent of, say, Martin & Lewis (Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis). Their musical tastes embrace each other and they may be one of the most affable pairings in quite some time. With good banter, excellent musicianship and a whole lot of “showbiz” they score over and over and over again. I won’t spoil the musical choices, either as solos or duets in their new show which takes you back to the golden era of MGM musicals, but the crowd at the totally sold out Cafe Centro enjoyed them last night as we were taken on a carefree ride, knowing we were in capable and professional hands, without a worry in the world.  We were all singing silently along with them, albeit not in the rain.. The great thing about seeing performers of this caliber is their camaraderie and how effortlessly they can make music and ENTERTAIN!

THE NEW BELTERS

NICOLAS KING & SETH SIKES

NICOLAS KING

SETH SIKES

SETH SIKES & NICOLAS KING

SETH SIKES

SETH SIKES & NICOLAS KING

SETH SIKES, SANDY FISHER, NICOLAS KING, STEPHEN SOROKOFF

MARK HARTMAN,music director, SETH SIKES, EDA SOROKOFF, NICOLS KING, STEPHEN SOROKOFF

STEPHEN SOROKOFF & NICOLAS KING

ROB RUSSELL, SUNNY SESSA, NICOLAS KING

EDA SOROKOFF & SUNNY SESSA

STEPHEN SOROKOFF & SUNNY SESSA

CRAIG NEIER & NICOLAS KING

STEPHEN SOROKOFF & EDA SOROKOFF

EDA SOROKOFF & “SAL”

SETH SIKES & NICOLAS KING

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