BWW Review: Julie Reyburn Proves That Time Has Been Kind to Her Award-Winning FATE IS KIND in Cabaret's Greatest Hits Series at Metropolitan Room
I first saw Julie Reyburn in her 2011 cabaret show Winter Songs, where she wonderfully explored in music the beauty of winter from its cool, autumnal evenings to the somber tranquility of a snow fallen night. It was a terrific act. So I was excited when Reyburn announced she would reprise her 2000 cabaret debut show, Fate Is Kind, which pretty much put her on the New York cabaret map and earned her MAC and Bistro Awards in 2001 for "Best Female Cabaret Debut." On September 14, Reyburn's show was the second in Stephen Hanks' monthly New York Cabaret's Greatest Hits Series (produced by his own Cabaret Life Productions) at The Metropolitan Room. The big questions with a series like this are: Do these shows and performances withstand the test of time? Are they really worth bringing back? In Reyburn's case, 15 years after debuting the show the answer is a resounding-YES! (Full disclosure alert: Mr. Hanks is the New York cabaret section editor for BroadwayWorld.com)
From the moment Reyburn takes the stage with her long-time Musical Director, arranger and pianist Mark Janas, and reads from Margaret Wise Brown's enchanting children's book classic Goodnight Moon, you feel secure and all snuggly-- as if you're in the warm tender hands of a loving mother. Ending her bedtime story with a hush . . . Reyburn quietly segues into her first song offered as the theme of the show, "The Child in Me" (Annie Dinerman). Displaying splendid comic timing (complete with fidgeting fingers that improvise tail feathers), Reyburn next treats us to Frank Loesser's "The Ugly Duckling" (from the 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen).
With life lessons learned from the reading of Margery William's iconic children's story, The Velveteen Rabbit, Reyburn brilliantly sets up a strong literary and musical contrast, juxtaposing the innocence of childhood against the harsher realities of adulthood. Revealing the emotional longings of her "inner child" in the songs "On The Steps of the Palace" (Sondheim from Into The Woods) and "When I Was a Boy" (Dar Williams), Reyburn then contrasts two Jason Robert Brown gems from the 1995 show Songs For a New World, "I'm Not Afraid of Anything" and a standout of the evening "Stars and The Moon," where Reyburn displays terrific acting chops as we travel down the "road of disillusionment" and witness in song her trade off of love for material wealth. A haunting mash-up of Jimmy Webb's "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" and Maury Yeston's "I Had a Dream About You" showcase Reyburn's great vocal skills aptly supported by Janas' sensitive and elegant arrangements. Throughout the evening Reyburn consistently makes a strong emotional connection to the lyric that easily translates to her appreciative audience.
Reyburn and Janas are a superb musical match as exemplified by my favorite song and moment in the show. After giving parental instruction musically to her own 10-year-old daughter Layla Page Fields (photo right) who is sitting in the audience, Reyburn sings the wonderfully dry "Come Home" (2009 MAC "Song of the Year" from Pinocchio in Chelsea--a musical written by Janas and lyricist Peter Napolitano) Layla then takes the stage to sweetly harmonize with her mother on the closing number of the show, "When You Wish Upon A Star" (Washington/Harline from the Disney film Pinocchio), from where the "fate is kind" show title derives. Jiminy Cricket could not have been more precious. Choosing the perfect encore with Sondheim's "Children Will Listen" (from Into the Woods), Reyburn absolutely soars--her magnificent mezzo soprano voice ever strong and passionate to the end, as a mirrored ball whirls about the room making us all the more aware that not only is fate kind, but that "time is always kind" to the young at heart.
New York Cabaret's Greatest Hits Series continues at the Metropolitan Room on November 2 with Maxine Linehan's What Would Petula Do? A Tribute to Petula Clark, and December 14 with Meg Flather's Portraits. Both shows at 7 pm. For reservations, go to: www.metropolitanroom.com
Photos by Lou Montesano/Still Rock Photography
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From This Author Billie Roe