Review: Tony DeSare and Capathia Jenkins Do FRANK AND ELLA Proud at The Cabaret Project of St. Louis

You can never get enough Frank and Ella... Or Tony and Capathia.

By: Mar. 23, 2021
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Review: Tony DeSare and Capathia Jenkins Do FRANK AND ELLA Proud at The Cabaret Project of St. Louis

In January the Cabaret Project of St. Louis began a series of online concerts designed to pay tribute to some famous singers, presented by some of the cabaret industry's brightest stars. Late to the party, Broadway World Cabaret missed the Billy Stritch tribute show to Mel Torme, but we were lucky enough to catch the Christine Andreas Piaf show, and it was clear that the third concert in the series needed to be put on the calendar. Well, that show debuted a few days ago and right now is the moment everyone should get their schedules out so they don't miss the second airing because the Frank and Ella show starring Tony DeSare and Capathia Jenkins is an enchanting hour of music from two singers of abundant charm and stunning vocal ability.

Produced specifically for The Cabaret Project of St. Louis, this special is a pared-down version of a concert that Ms. Jenkins and Mr. DeSare tour with regularly, a show that usually features an enormous orchestra and lush orchestrations by legendary Nelson Riddle. Certainly, the big band and Riddle orchestrations are beautiful in real life, but for the sake of this film, Mr. DeSare provides all accompaniment for the two singers, and it is enough. DeSare is an extraordinary pianist, providing some of the most sumptuous piano playing ever to be experienced, especially as seen through the lens of a camera positioned over his head to show the deft ability of his fingers as they fly, like gazelles, over the keys. Tony DeSare brings everything he or Capathia Jenkins need for the show.

It's such a lovely show, too.

Conveniently, there are four-ish minutes of biographical data on Sinatra and Fitzgerald at the top of the show, allowing the soloists to speak very little throughout. Capathia and Tony offer small insights now and then but most of what you get here is music, which is where these two live. Taking turns, Tony sings Sinatra, Capathia sings Fitzgerald, and then they do some dueting - it's a simple enough formula that works for two people who are obviously good friends, and definitely great musicians. I had heard Capathia Jenkins belt before but was genuinely unaware that she possessed so sweet and rare a vocal quality as is preserved throughout this film. This is a voice so pure, so crystalline, so pretty that there exists every possibility that all other singers thinking of doing an Ella Fitzgerald show should set their sights on Sarah Vaughan because the Ella shift is covered. As for DeSare, his devotion to Mr. Sinatra is apparent enough to warrant so fine a tribute show... but his voice is actually more appealing than Sinatra's. Additionally attractive is that he does not fall prey to the trap that snares many crooners: the pressure to live up to the original recordings. Mr. DeSare keeps it simple and straightforward, without gimmick or grandstanding: he lets the song and the voice do the work... and the piano playing. Have I mentioned the piano playing?

With a set of songs that everybody will recognize, want to hear, and find satisfying, Frank and Ella is one of the simple pleasures in online concert viewing: excellent music you know, beautiful voices you will love, and as little Learning Annex rhetoric as possible - though one of the treats is a section where the stars of the show speak freely with one another about the development of their passion for this music: it's a few minutes in the program that allows the viewer a small enough glimpse into Tony and Capathia, before going back to Frank and Ella. They're all four marvelous and worth the entry price, and there's every chance that people who love Frank and Ella will become fans of Tony and Capathia, and people who are fans of Tony and Capathia will come to love Frank and Ella. It's a win-win-win-win situation.

Streaming on March 27th, FRANK AND ELLA will be available from 7:30 pm-midnight Central Time. Information and tickets at the Cabaret Project of St. Louis HERE.

Visit the Capathia Jenkins website HERE.
Visit the Tony DeSare website HERE.


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