Review: Celia Berk's A DREAM AND A SONG at The Laurie Beechman Theatre is a triumph!

Berk is a first-class vocalist and a master of the dying art of song interpretation.

By: May. 14, 2024
Review: Celia Berk's A DREAM AND A SONG at The Laurie Beechman Theatre is a triumph!
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Review: Celia Berk's A DREAM AND A SONG at The Laurie Beechman Theatre is a triumph! The always welcoming Laurie Beechman Theatre radiated an exceptional warmth this past Sunday, May 12th; not just because it was Mother’s Day, but because a full house eagerly anticipated a special afternoon. Little did they know just how extraordinary Celia Berk’s encore of A Dream and a Song: The Musical Stories of Elizabeth Sullivan would be.

Applause filled the air as Celia, a vision of elegance in a velvet jacket with crystal closure, entered alongside Elizabeth Sullivan, 94 years young and as lively as those a third her age. After escorting Elizabeth to her seat, Celia took the stage, opening with a flawless rendition of "A Dream And A Song," music and lyrics by Sullivan. Celia’s velvet voice was a marvel of nuance, a masterclass in poise and stillness that imbued each syllable with profound meaning. Seoyeon Im's enchanting violin solo, the first of several, added the perfect touch to this glorious opening.Review: Celia Berk's A DREAM AND A SONG at The Laurie Beechman Theatre is a triumph!

Celia explained that the afternoon would feature her interpretations of a selection of Elizabeth Sullivan’s songs, poems, and stories from Sullivan’s new memoir. “Every song is a portrait that tells a story,” she remarked, leading into the first chorus of "Where My Picture Hangs On The Wall," a true sparkling gem. This song served as a guiding light, carrying us through a perfectly curated afternoon of hope, beauty, and reminiscence.

The show was a delight from start to finish, with too many standout moments to mention individually. However, several moments lingered in my mind long after the final bow. In "Out Of The Box," Celia showcased rich, full cello tones, while "Who In The World" was an effortlessly delivered anthem to all the questioners and journey(wo)men. "Shekinah Come" was delivered with such feeling that every word resonated deeply. "Turn It Around" showcased her pure, clear voice with remarkable depth and character. "Angel You Can Fly" was pure magic, while "Song Of The Chimes" was so delicate it felt like witnessing something intimate and personal. "How Were We to Know" was quiet perfection, and "Where My Picture Hangs On The Wall Chorus 2" was chill-inducing. "Remember You," a heart-wrenching tribute to the souls who’ve left such an indelible make they could never be forgotten, received a well-deserved “Brava!” "Big Waves and Little Ripples" reminded us of our worth and the limitless love we can give, and it was stupendous.

Review: Celia Berk's A DREAM AND A SONG at The Laurie Beechman Theatre is a triumph! Elizabeth joined Celia on stage for the closing number, "I Never Would Have Dreamed It." Accompanying herself on the piano, her voice was as gentle as a tear and softer than a beloved’s whisper. Kudos to John Weber, the musical director, whom Celia lovingly (and accurately) refers to as the Elizabeth Whisperer. Seoyeon Im's violin was ethereal, and Sean Driscoll's guitar was a perfect addition. Special mention goes to Jeff Harnar, whose direction was clean and beautiful, proving that sometimes simplicity is best, even though it's rarely done well. Bravo, Jeff.

Some of Elizabeth’s songs are decades old, yet each remains as gorgeous and relevant as if penned yesterday. New or older, her work is tailor-made for an instrument as pure and nuanced as Berk’s voice. Celia’s magic lies not only in her vocal prowess but also in her ability to meld seamlessly with the music, becoming another beautifully tuned instrument alongside the piano, guitar, and violin—creating a quartet of extraordinary beauty. She is a first-class vocalist and a master of the dying art of song interpretation.Review: Celia Berk's A DREAM AND A SONG at The Laurie Beechman Theatre is a triumph!

The show is as much a comforting hug as it is an opportunity for reflection. Are we making the most of every moment? Are we living the life we want to live? Are we appreciating what’s around us and sharing our love and kindness (often and enough)?

In this performance, Berk showcases something few can achieve: the art of profound simplicity. She prepared like great artists do, but then she did something all aspire to but few attain—she let go. And magic followed.

Celia Berk’s "A Dream and a Song: The Musical Stories of Elizabeth Sullivan" will undoubtedly be a wonderful addition to the world's catalogue of great albums (hint, hint). But why stop there? "Celia Berk: Sings The (entire) Elizabeth Sullivan Song Book" sounds like an even better idea.


To learn more about Celia, visit her online. To learn more about Elizabeth Sullivan, click here. Oh, and read her poem, "The Mirror"... you’re welcome.

For more shows at the Laurie Beechman, visit their website.

Photo Credit: Nathan Johnson



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