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Taylor Pietz: #Crazy Is the New Black

| March 30, 2016

Taylor Pietz

#Crazy Is the New Black

The Emerald Room at The Monocle, St. Louis, MO, March 16, 2016

Reviewed by Steve Callahan for Cabaret Scenes

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Taylor Pietz, a very bright talent in St. Louis, lured me down to The Emerald Room in St. Louis’s lively Grove neighborhood to see her show last night. And it was sheer delight.

A familiar and popular face steps to the microphone. It’s Ben Nordstrom. He introduces the star of the evening, and then . . . Taylor Pietz takes the stage. She takes the room. She takes us all into the palm of her lovely hand. In a bright red blazer, jeans and boots, Pietz charms us with a rich variety of songs about how very crazy we all are in this age of virtual friends and on-line romances . . . and loneliness. She sings in a lovely and wonderfully controlled voice—of the frustrations of having 1,204 Facebook “friends.” “Oh, Please be my friend on Facebook,” she pleads, desperate for us to be friend number 1,205.

Most of the material was unfamiliar to me, though filled with wonderfully clever lyrics. There’s an almost tragic one about postings of “pictures of people taking pictures of people taking pictures of people taking pictures . . .”

She makes a very poignant critique of social media.

Several of the songs are re-wordings of old standards. (“Try to remember, and if you remember then follow . . . follow, follow, follow, follow me on Twitter!”) In bewailing the too-busy life of a freelance singer/teacher/choreographer, she does a most amusing version of  Oklahoma!’s “I  Cain’t Say No.”

Such a performer! She’s far more confidant than her age should allow. Her script is superb—just enough chat to properly, cleverly introduce a song. Never any self-indulgent stories of her personal life. Like a good comic setting up a joke she gives just enough lead-in to broach the song. Is the anecdote fact? Is it fiction? Who cares?! If she makes any jokes, the jokes are always on her.

One especially good song, “A Beautiful Paper Life,” sadly called us to “Look at all my pretty pictures.” She wrote it herself.

Just when I was getting hungry for some more familiar fare she brought out “Eleanor Rigby”—calm and serious and beautiful and sad. There’s a song about a “brief fling” that goes romantically serious; there’s hectic, frenzied one about living in New York and searching for some “Calm.”

The keystone of the evening is her superb rendering of “If I Only Had a Brain.” She finishes with an easy, smooth, sweet relaxed rendition of “Still Crazy After All These Years.”

The lovely Taylor Pietz fills the room with sparkling personality—and even a wisdom beyond her years. It’s a superb evening of cabaret.

Michael Amoroso joins her for a few songs. He brings his guitar and his lovely smooth baritone. Justin Smollet at the piano provides the very perfect model of a modern accompanist: skilled, essential, and gracefully invisible.

I will go back to The Monocle. It offers a rich variety of entertainment—cabaret, dance, magic, burlesque. And the guys who run it have the impeccable taste to make the venue and its offerings a rare treat indeed.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, Regional, St. Louis, St. Louis Cabaret Reviews

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