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BWW Review: CHARLOTTE LIBOV Is a Hit On Her First Cabaret Outing on MetropolitanZoom

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“I Wrote the Book” – a wonderful song list yields great expectations!

BWW Review: CHARLOTTE LIBOV Is a Hit On Her First Cabaret Outing on MetropolitanZoom

First, an explanation-Bernie Furshpan, CEO and Executive Producer of metropolitanZoom.com, advised me as follows: "Charlotte was a winner from our giveaway contest. She drew 82 people. She is not a pro singer and this was her first ever cabaret and live show."

Entries had to be submitted in mid-February, 2020. MetropolitanZoom.com randomly selected two winners in March 2020. Each winner was given the following: musicians (piano, bass, and drums) and the opportunity to rehearse prior to their live performance; live-streaming of their show, using 4 professional cameras, on the winners' social media page and metropolitanZoom's Premium Virtual Venue Experience platform; and finally, a professional studio audio/video recording. The package was valued at $1,500.

I was prepared to listen to an amateur, and I use that word in its best sense, meaning a person who does something simply for the love of doing it, for the joy that the doing puts in their heart no matter whether anyone else likes it or not.

So I logged in to Ms. Libov's show. I had already seen her setlist and was looking forward to a very entertaining evening containing more than a half-dozen songs that were on my personal "Favorites" list. I was wondering how she would knit these songs into an evening that made sense rather than just a self-indulgent outing. Much to my delight, while there was not one coherent theme, Ms. Libov DID manage to make sure that everything she said between songs led us directly to the next one. This was WONDERFUL programming, and even better than a lot of professionals manage.

This show put me in the mood to channel one-time film critic Gene Shalit, who never focused on the things he thought were wrong with any film. His major concern always seemed to be whether the audience would enjoy the film, whether they would think it was worth plunking down their money at the box office. He sometimes laughed his way through a review, and always talked about what an audience would enjoy, and would enjoy remembering later.

This is my feeling after listening to Charlotte Libov, who was admirably supported by pianist and backup singer Matthew Martin Ward.

Some specifics:

"One of the Boys" from "Woman of the Year" - It was so obvious that Ms. Libov was having a wonderful time singing for us that I couldn't help but smile and tap time on the table with my finger.

"Broadway Baby" from "Follies" - The look on her face as she sang this song was pure magic. It was apparent that, for her, this song is almost autobiographical.

"Everybody Says Don't" from "Anyone Can Whistle" - She sang this one with such conviction, such earnestness, that I just had to cheer her on.

"When I Fall in Love" - Ms. Libov and Mr. Ward managed to find just the right key, just the right tempo, and just the right volume to make this song come off (for me) as the very best singing of the evening.

"If My Friends Could See Me Now" from "Sweet Charity" - this was another instance where her enthusiasm and enjoyment of singing this song totally eclipsed any challenges for her inherent in the song.

"Yes!" from "70 Girls, 70" - This song was a wonderful surprise. It was not on the setlist I was given, and it's a big favorite of mine. It was very nicely done-the quieter parts, the talking parts, and the belting at the end. I wanted to stand up and shout YES!

"When You Wish Upon a Star" from "Pinocchio" - both the vocal and piano arrangements were superb and made a perfectly charming ending for the show.

I was very pleased to see that Ms. Libov never had to read her words from a "cheat book." Every song was memorized, and her stories flowed out one song and into the next. In that sense, it was a very professional performance.

Mr. Ward's support was worthy of a prize. If Ms. Libov vocals wandered a bit from the key, he increased his volume and brought her back. If she had problems getting all the words out in time with the music (maybe because the tempo didn't allow her time to breathe), he waited for her. He was there for her no matter where she needed him to be. He was a true "accompanist," following the singer no matter where she went.

Some technical issues:

Ms. Libov had intonation problems. She is certainly not the only singer who ever had to deal with this. And sometimes, like other singers, she fell a beat behind on the tempo trying to find places to breathe. But these things are correctable as she does more cabaret performances. In addition, some intonation problems are easily fixed by moving the key.

I found her upper register a little thin, except when she was belting. This is also fixable, both by choosing the right keys and arrangements and by choosing the right material in the first place.

Except when her face lit up with enthusiasm and love of what she was singing, Ms. Libov didn't look comfortable standing at a microphone, and she held on to that white boa for dear life like she was afraid to move her elbows away from her ribs. This is also something that will be fixed by taking advantage of more performing opportunities.

Finally, I would remind Ms. Libov that, unless she is venturing into the realm of Bel Canto opera, the goal is NOT to sing the song pretty, but to SELL the song. That means finding or creating an emotional context for the song that helps you communicate your feelings-why are you singing the song? what about the words touches your heart and moves you? what do you want your audience to feel when they hear it? If it's a "story song," you might think of it as a three-minute one-act play.

AND FINALLY, TWO PIECES OF ADVICE - I hope, Charlotte, that you will do more singing, more karaoke, more Open Mike nights, and more cabaret evenings like this (whether live or virtual). Repetition will solve many of this evening's challenges.

Also, you mentioned that you have worked with a number of voice teachers. It is possible that the teacher-student connection might have been weak with some of them. I believe you might be much better served by working with a teacher whose passion for YOUR artistic growth is their top priority-something I believe you definitely deserve.


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