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Review: Linda Purl Sparkled at MetropolitanZoom In Her First Virtual Show

“Out and About ~ Songs for a New Beginning” was a great cabaret evening

BWW Review: Linda Purl Sparkled at MetropolitanZoom In Her First Virtual Show

Last night, in her first virtual performance, Linda Purl was an ABSOLUTE TREAT! I say that as a cabaret performer who loves to see another cabaret performer do everything right. Ms. Purl has a great voice and an easy, seemingly effortless way with a melody and a lyric. Supported by pianist Tedd Firth, bassist David Finck, and percussionist Ray Marchica, the musical menu for the event included old and new, Broadway and pop, and jazz standards - a regular smorgasbord with something for every musical taste.

My personal cabaret mantra is that until a song is memorized, it's not ready to go onstage. If the performer is reading the words off a page or a screen, it's karaoke, not cabaret. Well, every song was "ready to go onstage" last night. In other words, everything was memorized and well-rehearsed. There was never a stumble in the lyrics, or from Ms. Purl and her supporting trio. There wasn't even a visible list of the show order for her to refer to.

Also, it was nice to see a performer who knows what to do with her body, her arms, her hands, and her face when she sings. I have sat through too many singers - both male and female - who thought it was acceptable to stand still as a rock no matter how the music "moved," as long as they sang pretty.

I also admire cabaret singers who know how to program an evening. In addition to choosing a great mix of material, both sung and spoken, this also has to do with how they structure the event; in other words, the order of the songs and where the talking appropriately fits in. For "Songs for a New Beginning," every song came smoothly out of its predecessor and moved equally smoothly into the next. When Ms. Purl chose to talk, the talk was always interesting.

At the present time, much of the talking in shows like this turns out to be about how the performer got through (or is still getting through) the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been very interesting (and helpful) listening to the broad variety of coping mechanisms that help performers get through the day, or through the night. I hope some audience members came away from this and other cabaret shows with new ways they can try to cope with the PTSD brought on by the pandemic. In her comments about surviving the pandemic, Ms. Purl even talked about other performers who have inspired her with the things they have done and the attitudes they have developed to cope over the last 15 months or so. I was especially pleased when she mentioned my friends Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch in her list of inspiring people who have helped others survive the pandemic.

The range of songs, musical genres and styles, and vocal requirements of this show, all of which were admirably supported by Messrs. Firth, Finck, and Marchica, was amazingly broad, and the arrangements original and sophisticated. Some specifics that stood out for me:

The show opened with a great arrangement and performance of a song most of us associate with Judy Garland, "I Feel a Song Coming On." This was, I believe, a straightforward clue that the evening would be mostly fast-paced, up-tempo, major key happy. The song definitely showed off Ms. Purl's strong and flexible upper register, as well as the virtuosity of all three musicians supporting her.

"Let Me Love You," showed off Ms. Purl's beautiful lower register. It was delivered easily and seemingly effortlessly.

The evening's big surprise was "Shall We Dance" from "The King and I." This arrangement twisted something old into something totally new, with great writing for all voices and instruments, in fact, a great fusion of voice, piano, bass, and percussion taking this "show tune" to a totally different place.

"I Have Dreamed," also from "The King and I," was beautifully sung, and nuanced as if it were Ms. Purl's actual innermost thoughts, almost like a movie where the song is pre-recorded and seems to play inside the character's head. This was a great approach to one of the most romantic ballads Rodgers & Hammerstein ever crafted.

Because of its nature as an up-tempo, "big" song, "I Love Being Here with You" came across like the closing number. It was followed by some talking to the audience and a beautiful song called "Try Your Wings," which urges people to get out of their comfort zone and try the things they have always wanted to try. It was a fitting end to a first virtual show as the pandemic winds down (we all hope) to its end.

Taking us firmly away from the Broadway genre was the jazz standard "Caravan." This was amazingly sung and played, pointing out the amazing musical range of all four performers on stage.

I loved that someone actually ran lights for this show. Having lights dim at the end of the song makes it feel like someone had time to pay attention to the details. The light changes made the evening feel very professionally done.

Visit the Linda Purl website by clicking THIS link.

See what's coming up at MetropolitanZoom at THIS link.

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