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Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater

A soprano? In a jazz club? Yes, please!

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater

Birdland is a nightclub that has spent the last seven decades presenting jazz music. It is a local haunt for New York residents and a tourist spot for out-of-towners, all of whom follow the art of jazz and wish to hear the musical genre performed live. Birdland is not, though, restricted in the music that is presented in the two rooms there (Birdland Main Stage and the Birdland Theater) because some years ago Jim Caruso's Cast Party began featuring many performers from Broadway, only to be followed up by the Broadway At Birdland series, and The Lineup With Susie Mosher, both of which feature crooning and belting and even some folk, country, and rock and roll. So even though Birdland is a jazz club, it is a place where any type of music might be heard, given the night of the week and a person's musical tendencies.

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater But a soprano? Could one, would one, find a legitimate musical theater soprano filling the Birdland Theater with the trilling of the Golden Age of Broadway? And would it be appropriate? And would the audiences come? The answer to all of those questions is a resounding yes, as musical theater actress Caitie Frownfelter made her Birdland debut and her solo show debut in the same night.

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater

Caitie Frownfelter is one of the multitudes of actors living and working in New York City while pursuing their dream of being on stage and, in the case of Catie Fronwfelter, the actress should be constantly working, that much wasn't just clear during her fifty-minute musical cabaret SHOW ME - it was obvious. Subtitled SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE, Ms. Frownfelter's club act presented songs from classic musicals like My Fair Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater Lady, Camelot, The Fantasticks, Kiss Me Kate, and almost all of the Rodgers and Hammerstein canon, and it demonstrated that, even though there have been soprano roles written for women during the last few decades, there are women and there are voices that just lean into the world of the classic musical theater soprano. A woman of breathtaking physical beauty, a more than palpable charm, and vocal training that, at times, makes a person shake their head in appreciation, there is no reason why regional theaters shouldn't be calling upon Frownfelter to play Eliza Dolittle, Laurey WIlliams, Luisa, Julie Jordan, and Guenivere (Frownfelter will have to wait a few years for Lilli Vanessi, Mrs. Anna, and probably Amalia Balash, too, but she is on the cusp of being age-appropriate for the Barbara Cook-originated role). Given what this writer witnessed on Monday night, Caitie Frownfelter is completely and totally ready for these gigs, and the producers and audiences would be lucky to have her. She can even act, as evidenced by her emotionally informed performances of "Til There Was You" and "Far From The Home I Love" or her shot at comedy number "If You Hadn't But You Did." This is not a case of a young woman having trained a beautiful voice into a technical marvel, it is an out-and-out example of a fine actress who has been trained to act while engaged in the art of singing - and anyone who has seen an actor with a beautiful voice sing with absolutely no emotional connection to the material knows how frustrating that is. That's not Caitie Frownfelter: she brings the whole story to each musical performance she gives.

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater Now for the notes - and, as this is a debut solo show, there should be notes, because no artist should come out of the gate, ready to go. There must be room for growth, for artistic exploration, and for adventure. And even though Caitie is ready to do this show over and over again, there are some things this night owl would like to offer, by way of suggestion. Don't worry, Caitie's Grandma (who was seated near my table during the show), these aren't harsh notes, and they are easy to achieve.

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater There is no director listed on any of Caitie's advertising for the show, and in spite of the strong opinion of some people, a director is actually essential to the creation of a cabaret show. SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE is a delightful program that currently reads like a recital because Caitie is working without a script, without an arc, without connective tissue from song to song, and as much as one would like to think that a theme is connective enough, it isn't. The advertising for Show Me uses the phrase "Your grandma's favorite musicals" - Caitie is funny (naturally so) and there were times when her off-the-cuff chit chat with the audience showed it, and times when her passion for these musicals was visible in her eyes and the cadence of her speaking voice. A director could help Caitie shape the show with some personal stories about why these musicals mean so much to her, how she first discovered them, and what her Grandma's relationship to some of them looks like. A director and a script could help her shape this in the same way that Fred Ebb shaped all of Liza Minnelli's concerts into musical storytelling hours. It might also be interesting to see Caitie work with musical director Rachel A. Kaufman to create some treatments for one or two of the songs. Obviously, since Caitie Frownfelter is paying homage to the musicals of Broadway's Golden Age, there may be a mission statement to present the songs in their original mood, which is a lovely idea, but when a singer has the likes of Mark McLean on drums and Saadi Zain on bass, they should get the whole nightclub experience by being treated to an original arrangement, created just for them. Just one or two numbers - maybe "So In Love" and "Much More" would be appropriate but definitely not "Ribbons Down My Back," which was so gorgeous in Frownfelter's traditional performance that it must remain exactly as it is.

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater And the final note from this reviewer is one based purely on greed: Caitie Frownfelter and her creative team could easily add ten or fifteen minutes to Show Me. Clocking in at a respectable fifty minutes, Show Me is a proper cabaret show length... but sixty five minutes is still proper cabaret length and it would give the audience more time with a lovely and enjoyable new performer on the cabaret and concert scene, as well as providing Caitie with some time to explore other soprano roles of the era like Sister Sarah Brown from Guys and Dolls, Rosabella from The Most Happy Fella, and it would, most certainly, be a treat to hear Caitie Frownfelter sing "Glitter and Be Gay." Speaking personally, the number of times that I and my date for the evening turned to one another with EYESTHISWIDE in approving glances because of the sheer beauty and (sometimes surprising) power of the Frownfelter instrument was so consistent that we could, easily, have listened to some more, and the famous aria from Candide would have made more replete an already rich recital of exceptional singing and Broadway musical theater history, in the basement of a legendary jazz club. Thank goodness the genre lines have blurred over the years and the musical offerings have become more varied because the Birdland Theater was a fine room for this very promising first night for Caitie Frownfelter. Here's hoping the second one isn't far behind.

The SHOW ME band was Saadi Zain on bass, Mark McClean on drums, and Musical Director Rachel A. Kaufman on piano.

Find other great shows to see on the Birdland website HERE.

Follow Caitie Frownfelter on Facebook HERE.

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater

Caitie Frownfelter with wonderful Brian Wilson, who joined her for two numbers:

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater

Review: Caitie Frownfelter Is Pitch Pefect In SHOW ME: SONGS FROM BROADWAY'S GOLDEN AGE at Birdland Theater Photos by Stephen Mosher


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From This Author - Stephen Mosher

Stephen Mosher is the author of The Sweater Book (a collection of his photography featuring celebrated artists from the entertainment communities of New York, Los Angeles, and London), Lived In Crazy... (read more about this author)


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