Review: Artemisia LeFay Fills The Triad Theater With PHANTOMS OF THE CABARET

Kabarettist Artemisa LeFay continues to cast her spell over New York's cabaret scene.

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Before the show begins, the Triad Theater is filled with a mystique. Chalk it up to the burgundy banquets, the vaudevillian-style theatre, or the waiting glass of bubbly atop a stool on the stage, lit by a purplish hue. They all perfectly set the expectation for the aptly titled "Phantoms of the Cabaret" with Artemisia LeFay.

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When Artemisia steps out on stage with her trio of musicians, the tone is further set for the audience in the opening number, "Echo of the Last Goodbye." Artemisia has a commanding stage presence. When the glass of prosecco tumbles in the second number, a moment that almost seems planned or plotted by the ghosts of cabarets past, she doesn't flinch, despite the dangerous shards at her feet. Artemisia isn't afraid of death or the ghosts that linger; she embraces them. She tells the audience, "I believe in the power of performance to honor the past."

The audience further learns this through the anecdotes peppered throughout the numbers, in which she talks about her inspiration, through the old Hollywood vamps, and the difference between dark kabarett and traditional cabaret. Some numbers include "The House is Haunted by the Echoes of Your Last Goodbye" by Basil Adlam. Artemisia leads the audience into the haunted house, showing them this despair, through he10 Videos To Get Us Worked Up For WOMEN OF AN ERA Starring Hannah Jane At Chelsea Table + Stager evocative voice and stylized performance.

Foreboding notes from the violin evoke a warm warning that death is inevitable and an ever-present darkness. The musicians in this show, violinist Henry Burby, Bassist Curren deVico, and Accompanist Renee Guerrero, all add to the show's vibe with their musical prowess. Specifically, Burby starts off the two trio numbers in the show with some musical history that he delivers with a passionate and personable delivery. Youkali: Tango Habanera adds to the arc of the evening's dark story, in which the search for a paradise that is so close one can taste it, but every time they almost reach it, they are yanked back in an eternal quest. The dissonance of these two contrasting moods creates one of their own, and passion and resignation are the essence of Tango.

Artemisia's songwriting talents are showcased in the show's latter half, including the title song, "Phantoms of the Cabaret." Artemisia shares the origins of her recent songwriting 10 Videos To Get Us Worked Up For WOMEN OF AN ERA Starring Hannah Jane At Chelsea Table + Stageendeavors, born after drinking strawberry sangria at a Berlin cafe. The original songs are so well-crafted and performed that I wished they had been incorporated into the first part of the evening as much as the second. Artemisia revealed that she is releasing her first full album next year, which is something to look forward to.

Artemisia will be back at the Triad Theater next week for her Weimar Republic show, and more information about that can be found here.

Photos by Grace Jordan.


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