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BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

Improbable Stories That Inspired An Unlikely Path

BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

I have to start my review of Celia Berk's new show ON MY WAY TO YOU: IMPROBABLE STORIES THAT INSPIRED AN UNLIKELY PATH from a personal place, rather than a benign third-party point of view. I have to speak in the first person because it's important to relate to the readers my experience at the Laurie Beechman Theatre yesterday. You see, I had heard about Celia Berk, I had listened to some Berk albums, and I had seen Celia in two group shows - the Meg Flather Sisterhood show and a two Christians/two Jews holiday cabaret at the Beach Cafe. I thought that I had a pretty good handle on Celia Berk, as a performer.

But nothing could have prepared me for what she did in her new cabaret show, yesterday.

BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre On My Way To You (I have to abbreviate the uncomfortably long title) is a real, honest-to-goodness cabaret show, just like Celia Berk is a real, honest-to-goodness cabaret performer. The shows that one can catch in the cabaret and concert industry are wide-ranging these days, as the doors open to all types of entertainment; small venue shows are no longer just one thing, and that's wonderful. There is room for every artist in the small venues of the world. But it is such a pleasure, indeed a treat, to see a bonafide cabaret show by a bonafide cabaret performer. And that's what audiences will find at The Beechman when they choose On My Way To You.

BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Ms. Berk and her team (Director Mark Nadler and Musical Director Tedd Firth) have chosen to do a sort of tribute show with On My Way To You. They haven't designed a program in which Berk focuses on just one entertainer or one composer (or composing team); the threesome has hit upon the idea to look at a handful of entertainers who reached the pinnacle of success in spite of certain obstacles, either at the beginning of or during their careers. The thing about it is that each of the stars that Ms. Berk honors during her exploration has a personal connection to her, and (in some cases) is a star that Celia actually saw perform live. This isn't a case of somebody saying to a singer, "You have a really powerful voice, you should sing Judy Garland songs," even though that singer has no personal knowledge of or investment in Judy Garland. This isn't one of those times when somebody told a talent, "You sound remarkably like Karen Carpenter, you should do a Karen Carpenter show," thus sending that singer into the internet to do research on an artist they don't really know. No, no, no. Celia Berk is doing a tribute show to these entertainers with whom she has a pre-existing relationship. And she is also doing a tribute show to her own life.

BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Observe the glint in her eye when she shares the stories of how her father introduced her to Al Jolson. Notice the catch in her voice when relating what she overheard Steve say to Sheldon as they all left a Barbara Cook concert. Enjoy the ardor with which she describes the incomparable thrill of seeing Nancy Walker perform live during a legendary Sondheim evening from the Seventies. Celia Berk has brought herself up onto the stage, along with these legendary talents that many have loved but that many may not, quite, be apt to celebrate in such a fashion as an acclaimed cabaret artist, and, with this show, it isn't just easy to see why Celia Berk is an acclaimed cabaret artist, it is essential artistry put right in the spotlight.

BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre During her program yesterday, Celia Berk announced that she has chutzpah. Interestingly, this happened some three minutes after this writer wrote "She has Chutzpah!" on the setlist. Celia Berk sings some thirteen songs in this show and she follows a complete arc, from start to finish. But Celia Berk is also performing thirteen one-act plays. She is unafraid to be performative. She is undaunted by emotion. She is unintimidated by theatricality. Everything that Celia Berk does in her show is in service of the story and stories she is telling: she is absolutely committed to every moment she spends on the stage, and that commitment makes for an extremely satisfying night of cabaret. In her quest to create world-class storytelling, Celia Berk makes use of her relationship to the audience, her relationship with Mr. Firth, her relationship to the stars about whom she is sharing, and her relationship to every word and every phrase of each song. Using a surprisingly rangey voice, various props and costume pieces, and acting skills that range from excess within control (an evening highlight: "Anyone Can Whistle") and broad comedy (an "I'm The First Girl In The Second Row In The Third Scene In The Fourth Number" that seems, at first, to be uncharacteristic for the elegant Berk but that is, indeed, perfect for her). Mr. Firth's inventive and impeccable treatments fit Celia like velvet gloves and Mr. Nadler's direction is tailor-made for the singing actress: who else should direct an evening of such theatricality other than the most theatrical man in cabaret and concert today? The threesome is a dream team and what they have created here is praise-worthy.

BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Other highlights in On My Way To You include a clever spin on "Anything You Can Do," an assertive "Boom!" and a "The Best is Yet To Come" that starts off plain and straightforward and builds to such a sunny force as to become the musical equivalent of a tidal wave - each performance a tour-de-force. It seems unnecessary to call out these three numbers as highlights when, factually speaking, every song Celia performs maintains such detailed integrity to the storytelling that audience members might just find themselves wiping tears from their face - if not for the emotion available in the stories, for the emotion of getting to see such artistry, up close and personal.

This is cabaret in its truest, purest form.

Celia Berk ON MY WAY TO YOU returns to the Laurie Beechman Theatre on April 21st at 7 pm and April 27th at 7 pm. For information and reservations visit the Laurie Beechman website HERE.

HERE is the Celia Berk website.

Celia Berk gets a five out of five microphones rating for performing her entire show without the use of a lyric sheet, tablet, or music stand.

BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre BWW Review: Celia Berk Offers Tour-de-Force Cabaret With ON MY WAY TO YOU at The Laurie Beechman Theatre Photos by Stephen Mosher


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From This Author - Stephen Mosher