BWW Reviews: Michele Lee's 'Catch the Light' at the CA International Theatre Festival

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Michele Lee brought her acclaimed night club act Catch the Light to the California InterNational Theatre Festival @ Founder's Hall in Calabasas for one night only Saturday July 24. Although suffering from a bout of laryngitis, Lee proved the consummate trouper, doing about half of her show and substituting a few other songs to suit the lower registers of her voice. Lending a helping hand was Festival Director actress/singer Linda Purl who sang 2 sets of tunes, thus giving Lee some rest time in the wings. Ah, the unpredictability of live theatre! Sometimes it's wondrous.

The evening turned into a fantastic double bill as both ladies gave their all for the sake of art. Highlights of Lee's show included: "Pure Imagination", "I Believe In You" from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, "The Boy Next Door", "Nobody Does It Like Me" from her Broadway hit Seesaw, a heartwarming "Time After Time", as Lee talked about her son David Farentino and Joni Mitchell's stunning "A Case of You", as she bemoaned the loss of love. There was also a sweet "I've Got a Crush on You" dueting with accompanist Ron Abel and her wonderful finale "It Started with a Dream". The theme of Lee's show is the quest for imagination, that her father (a famous Hollywood makeup artist) instilled in her as a little girl, when he played a game, holding a pocket mirror in his hand every night and letting the glare from it bounce on her bedroom wall, as she tried to catch the light. Lee is a magnificent actress who digs deep for the meaning of every lyric and comes up shining. She gives 150% and is nothing short of BWW Reviews: Michele Lee's 'Catch the Light' at the CA International Theatre Festivalsheer heaven.

Purl grew up in Japan and extoled the virtues of her father (a chemical engineer), who, like Lee's father, instilled in her a love of the arts. Purl's father's favorite music was the Big Band era of the 30s and 40s. In fact, he used to dance her around the living room as a little girl to the tunes of Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington, which infused her selections in the concert. They included: "The Best Is Yet to Come", "At Last", "Sentimental Journey", "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" "Too Close For Comfort", a lovely "I'll Be Seeing You", "Out of This World" and a lullaby to her 15 year-old son "This Time Tomorrow" from her Broadway run in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Purl, like Lee, is a fabulous actress who invests her music with everything she's got.

The evening was a double dose of joy capping off the second successful season of the California InterNational Theatre Festival in Calabasas.

 


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