A Musical Journey did just that -- it took the audience on a journey through a myriad songs by some ingenious early-20th-century European composers. A vast range of material was covered in varied, exciting ways.
The show was done as a cabaret -- there were almost two dozen songs interspersed with anecdotes. Vickie Phillips delightfully delved into the repertoire, offering both poignant and hilarious patter as to why she chose them. The show consisted of mostly songs by Jacques Brel and Kurt Weill. Phillips talked in detail about their lives and their backgrounds. She made the show very personal by describing what it was like for her to visit Eastern Europe and the Netherlands, including Anne Frank's hideaway, while also kvetching about how long it took her to get the rights to some of the songs.
The highlights of the show were the more dynamic numbers -- either comical or powerfully emotional. These highlights included Brel's "Madeleine," which she delivered with good comic timing; his "Carousel," which received a fascinatingly frightening, frenzied rendition; and finally Weill's "Pirate Jenny," which was truly haunting in its fierceness.
Phillips was accompanied on keyboard by her musical director/arranger Gerry Dieffenbach. Dieffenbach backed her up on a few songs and opened the second act with a thrilling rendition of Weill's "One Life to Live." He possessed a lilting tenor that filled the intimate space nicely.
Additionally, Phillips was intelligently directed by cabaret veteran Bob Ost. The staging made use of many distinct areas in the small space. Rob Cardazone did a great job creating various light spots and diverse lighting textures to illuminate the passion of the performers.
A Musical Journey was a well-written journey through much good material, some of which rarely gets performed nowadays. Let's hope it will get performed again, because this material should not be forgotten!
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Copyright 2004 Seth Bisen-Hersh