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Kathleen France, La Bella Vita, The Iridium

Kathleen France, La Bella Vita, The Iridium

Kathleen France

On Tuesday, October 4th at 8:00 PM, Kathleen France brought her one-woman-tour de force extravaganza, “La Bella Vita” to the Iridium. With an eight-piece band to warm up the crowd, then appearing on stage in a skin tight, sparkling evening dress, sporting a smile as gorgeous and infectiously heart warming as her voice, France entranced the audience from the first bar of Bob Merrill’s Mambo Italiano to her to her twenty-fourth selection, Buona Sera by Louis Prima.

Kathleen France

Kathleen France

The program,comprised of popular songs made famous by Italian/Italian American singers and/ or with Italian themes, was expertly crafted by Emmy Award nominee and MAC Award winner France and her director Tanya Moberly. I overheard a nearby table of people say that the sole purpose of the show was to create an audition film for employment on cruise ships. If that is indeed the case, I can report definitively that France’s mission is more than accomplished, and here’s why:

France brilliantly weaves personal anecdotes into a tight, universally appealing show, making it authentic to her and personal to anyone who loves this genre of music. And face it, everybody loves this genre of music. The evening was a recipe for success, as the audience celebrated the hit songs, laughed at France’s stories and marveled at her vocal versatility. Highlights of the show included Bobby Darin’s arrangement of Dream Lover paired with Connie Francis’ arrangement of Your Don’t Have to Say Love. France’s rich alto would soar into an off-the-staff belt with ease. Further, as she shifted into The Prayer (David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager, Alberto Testa and Tony Renis), her legit soprano stayed steady and even as she delivered the lyric in flawless Italian. One part pin-up girl, one part Lucille Ball goofy chick and all parts powerhouse vocalist, Kathleen France makes entertaining look easy.

So, how does an Irish Girl from Fort Collins, Colorado end up presenting an ambitious, Italian- themed program of hit songs at a posh Manhattan Club, backed up by an eight piece band? She does it by hiring Ian Herman as her Director of Music, and the stellar instrumentalists Sean Harkness (Guitar), Tom Hubbard (Bass), Dave Silliman (Drums), Jon Menges (Trumpet), Mark Miller (Trombone), Jeff Schiller (Alto Sax, Flute 1) and Jeff Nichols (tenor Sax, Flute2 Clarinet). Then she chooses MAC Award winner Tanya Moberly to direct and guide her through the complex and elegant musical choices. Finally, she puts every bit of her divine intelligence , talent and, yes, adorable persona into the act.

If “La Bella Vita” travels to the open water, well, cruise ship audiences all over the globe will be entertained and moved by Kathleen France’s singing prowess and generous spirit. For the rest of us on land, we hope she brings it back again and again.


Carolyn was graduated from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where she earned a degree in Opera Performance. Immediately after graduation she toured with a critically acclaimed jazz ensemble, Quick Step, sang for a season with the Tri-Cities Opera Company, and performed leading roles with regional theater companies including Ann, A Little Night Music, Maria, West Side Story, and The Leading Player, Pippin, to name a few. In between those gigs, she was a waitress. In search of a definitive genre for her performance career, Carolyn found her way to Provincetown, MA where the musical director who would change her life, the late Richard Weinstock, owned a restaurant and cabaret club, Rick's Provincetown. After hearing Carolyn sing a broad repertoire – classical to show tunes to jazz to original songs, Richard asked the question that made it all come clear: "Why not do it all, just be yourself, and call it Cabaret?" Carolyn spent the summer coaching and performing with Richard and sitting nightly in the audiences of cabaret greats like Sharon McKight, Jay Rogers and Ann Hampton Callaway – all with extended bookings at Rick's Provincetown. Finally knowing exactly what she wanted to do, Carolyn also chose exactly where she wanted to do it: New York City. Carolyn's first solo cabaret show in New York City garnered her the Outstanding Female Debut Award, from the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs (MAC) and was presented to her by Liza Minnelli. Shortly after, Carolyn won the Nightlife and BackStage Bistro Awards for Outstanding Female Vocalist. She graced the cover of Cabaret Scenes Magazine, won the Cabaret Hotline Top Ten CD Picks of the Year for her recording Reveille, won the Siegel's (then the Two of Clubs) CD Pick of the Month, presented to her by David Friedman. Carolyn has taken her shows, full of comedy and a wide-range of musical styles, to the Plush Room and Martunis in San Francisco, Davenports in Chicago, the Firebird and Feinsteins at the Regency in New York, and other cabaret venues from Seattle, WA to Rockland, ME. She is featured on the Original Cast Records Label in "The Johnny Mercer Jamborree." Her recent recording "Carolyn Montgomery-Forant Celebrates the Great American Songbook,” her award winning recording “Reveille," and her latest recording “Visible Phoenix” with Jon Weber and The Fine Whine, are available on and CD Baby. Carolyn is a featured singer on the recording that accompanies the popular children's book "Humpty Who?" by author Jennifer Griffin and available at or Bas Bleu at In 2006, Carolyn took an hiatus from the stage to raise her son to school age, as well as open and operate her own restaurant, Cafe Forant, on the West Side of Manhattan. For seven years this hip and hopping little cafe (as well as a hip and hopping little boy, Eli) kept her beyond busy. During that time, she managed to squeeze in commercial voice-over work and the occasional cabaret guest appearance. Carolyn returned to the stage full time in January, 2014, producing and appearing in an all-star studded extravaganza at the Jerry Orbach Theater to benefit the Nightlife Awards (including Charles Busch, Julie Halston, Greg Edelman, Jane Monheit and Bill Irwin). In nine short months Carolyn has co-starred in the hit show Dirty Little Songs at 54 Below, been a featured performer at Town Hall in the Broadway by the Year Series, appeared at Lincoln Center with Steve Ross, starred in The Amanda McBroom Project at the Studio Theater (directed by Broadway's Arthur Masella, co-starring Mandy Gonzales, Lacretta Ross, Karen Akers and KT Sullivan) and taken her show Visible Phoenix to London, Chicago and San Francisco. In 2015, Montgomery-Forant garnered a rave review in the New York Times (see press) and presented Visible Phoenix at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York City for a full year, under the music direction of Jon Weber (NPR Piano Jazz). She has also conceived, with co-writer Jeff Cubeta, The Rise Tour, during which they will travel to 24 cities in 12 months presenting an original choral piece based on Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise with choruses throughout the United States, to raise money for the Mathew Shepard Foundation. The Rise Tour will premiere in Denver on December 3, 2015 and run through December 2016. Her series Stronger Stuff: see what happens when women help other women in a changing social and cultural age, will feature women artists of all varieties throughout 2016 in New York City. Thus far the series features Love Comes in Lavender, a benefit for LGBTQ Youth*, Dawn Derow in her classical Cabaret Legit at the Laurie Beechman Theatre* and Christmas Carolyn at Etcetera, Etcetera Restaurant*, featuring a number of talented women singers. Carolyn lives on the West Side of Manhattan with her family and is committed to an organic/slow food/eat locally lifestyle. She practices Bikram Yoga and travels with her family to ski, hike, paddle and explore the great outdoors as much as she can. For the last decade, she has served as the director of this country's only free veterinary clinic. Her blog, "Invisible Phoenix," is dedicated to the empowerment and inspiration of women over 40. Lest you assume Carolyn is just a simple Earth Mama in the habit of hugging trees, you should know she considers good wine a food group, plays poker with her child for high stakes, and (intelligently) looks to drag queens for make-up and fashion advice.

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