BWW Review: IRVING BERLIN: A SIMPLE MELODY Serenades a Delightful Song
The In Series, which creates innovative theatrical programming around a classical music core of opera, cabaret, and song, presents a tune-filled look at the music of Irving Berlin, one of America's most celebrated composers. Artistic Director Carla Hübner notes in the program: "George Gershwin called Berlin 'the greatest songwriter that has ever lived.'" I tend to agree, although I would reserve that for Mr. Gershwin, but at the In Series, they crafted a delightful evening filled with some of his most memorable songs.
Music Director and Pianist, Reenie Codelka has done some outstanding arranging with the songs and had the six top notch singers navigating through the repertoire with great ease. I am usually very skeptical when traditional opera singers tackle musical theatre, but these six do a superb job. Jaely Chamberlain, CJ David, Jarrod Lee, Garrett Matthew, Elizabeth Mondragon, and Krislynn Perry each are phenomenal and all have moments to shine, but standout amongst them all is Ms. Perry's touching, soulful, heart wrenching rendition of "Supper Time" from As Thousands Cheer. I have seen many singer try to tackle this number, but I've never been more moved by a singular performance of this song than by Ms. Perry. A truly bravura performance.
While the songs were delightful, the story to go along with the evening got too much in the way. Writer Bari Biern attempted to string together the songs using the convention of Mr. Berlin's daughter going through his apartment after his death and reminiscing. It had a nice sentiment, but it was completely unnecessary and at times got in the way of the gorgeous voices. I would have enjoyed it immensely if it were just the songs and maybe a little narration. I will give Ms. Biern enormous credit for the information she gave us about Berlin, which was a nice added bonus.
The simple set at Source (designed by Jonathan D. Robertson) was simple and inviting, and really brought you into the mood of the piece with his nice art deco set. Abel Lopez' simple direction and Tammy Roberts' fun choreography was perfect for the space and the performers.
Irving Berlin: A Simple Melody is a nice, simple show that showcases some very sophisticated performances and a nice way to spend a cold January evening in DC.
Photo Credits: Johannes Markus