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BWW Review: Ann Kittredge VIRTUAL SHORTS Is Wonderful Binge-Worthy Virtual Programming

With new tech to make things exciting and polished, Ann Kittredge has hit upon a skill that she should continue to nurture.

BWW Review: Ann Kittredge VIRTUAL SHORTS Is Wonderful Binge-Worthy Virtual Programming

Before the quarantine started a year ago, everyone knew what it meant to binge-watch a television show, even if it wasn't everyone's "thing" but today everyone in the world has become an expert at binge-watching. Some have even done so much binge-watching that they are, officially, done with it. Well, this morning I awoke early and decided to binge-watch a show on YouTube and, boy, am I happy that I did.

I have to admit that I have only seen Ann Kittredge live once. Our timing has been off - when she has been performing in shows that I really wanted to see, I have been, frustratingly, otherwise engaged. My first live exposure to Ann's work was at an installment of The Lineup With Susie Mosher, and that's when I learned I had pre-judged Ann Kittredge: I looked at photos of the classic Patrician beauty, perfectly coiffed and elegantly styled, and thought to myself, "She would be great as Ouisa in Six Degrees of Separation." Seeing Ann in action I realized she should be playing Mame - not Auntie Mame - Mame, because this singing voice must be put to good use in the musical version, even if keys have to be changed for her lovely soprano. It turns out Ann Kittredge is a goofball, a comic, a funny lady. That's what I learned at The Lineup and that's what I saw in the very first episode of her online program VIRTUAL SHORTS, especially during her musical number "You Make Me Laugh". Ann Kittredge is funny, she is charming, she is delightful, and she is entertaining, simply by virtue of being present.

BWW Review: Ann Kittredge VIRTUAL SHORTS Is Wonderful Binge-Worthy Virtual Programming When Ann Kittredge announced her new virtual program VIRTUAL SHORTS back in October I didn't fully understand what she was doing. Using verbiage like "Breaking new ground in live, remote, virtual performance" and photos like the one seen to the left, I had the false impression that she and her friends were going to be doing sketch shows or improv or something along the lines of the Zoom readings we've all been watching for the last year. When I finally had the time to sit down and watch what she has been doing once a month since October, I discovered a sweet and engaging chat show with music. Ann chats with the viewer by way of recounting stories from her life, she talks to musical director, marvel Christopher Denny, sometimes tech guru Matt Berman joins in, and on individual episodes, she communes with guests David Sabella and Steve Ross. She talks and she sings, and maybe that sounds like it might be a bit boring but nothing could be farther from the truth. Ann Kittredge is a born natural at this, and it would be a shame if, when the clubs reopen and we are all back to live performances, she didn't continue to produce this series. The four monthly episodes created thus far (they took January off) have demonstrated (with incrementally increased time) that Ms. Kittredge not only has enough material to sustain a live stream program, she has a knack for the medium. At no time is the hostess made uncomfortable by talking about herself and her family, she is never at unease with the lack of an audience to play to, and Ann has no difficulty speaking extemporaneously. There is an obvious absence of script, she doesn't refer to notes, she simply turns on the camera and goes... no hemming and hawing, no question of where she is heading with each story, song, or show. It's as though Ann Kittredge has been keeping a secret from everyone all these years: she is a talk show host.

And it's such a sweet talk show.

Ms. Kittredge has something special in that she doesn't know how to be false, and when she talks about her family, her wedding, her brother, her Buddhism, the wedding dance... when she shares about her Christopher Plummer crush and her dismay at his passing... when she is genuinely surprised by learning she has been nominated for an audience award... well, she has you in the palm of her hand. You can't help but be enchanted. Musically, the program is a wealth of fun and feelings, whether Ann is singing something humorous or something touching, whether she's doing a neat Christmas mash-up with Mr. Sabella or a flawless Cole Porter duet with Mr. Ross (whose presence on the program gave this writer shivers of satisfaction). From this side of the monitor or that side of the camera, VIRTUAL SHORTS is a success.

You know tv watchers don't really ever think about the technical side of the medium - they turn on their set and they watch their show. Even with the virtual work that has come out of the last year, most people just want to watch the program without thinking about the tech, only thinking of the backstage aspect of the show when something goes wrong. Put it on paper, though: Ann is in one place in New York, Chris Denny is in another, Matt Berman, yet another, and when Misters Ross and Sabella join the party, there are other locations in play. Nevertheless, thanks to jamkazam and Mr. Berman's incomparable skills, all of these people can put on a musical television show in real-time, from various locations, by remote and, kids, there are SO FEW glitches. Of all the virtual shows I've seen in the last year, VIRTUAL SHORTS has one of the lowest ratios of technical glitches. It's just extremely well-produced - you will have no embarrassment shivers while watching this program, only pure delight, and that's what makes viewers want to come back for the next episode.

Enjoy Ann Kittredge VIRTUAL SHORTS every month on the Ann Kittredge YouTube channel HERE and get updates on dates, times and guests at the Ann Kittredge website HERE


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