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Carly Ozard: More Shift Happens

| August 22, 2016

Carly Ozard

More Shift Happens

Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, August 18, 2016

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes 

Carly-Ozard-Midler-on-the-Roof_Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212In a clever wordplay on the popular expression “shit happens,” local favorite non-resident Carly Ozard gently exorcises demons that have long haunted her and comes out a better entertainer and human being in the process. More Shift Happens finds Ozard in fine voice – clear, sharp and obviously well trained. Always totally open and upfront with her banter, Ozard has eschewed the self-deprecation and bitterness of earlier shows (Bewitched, Bothered and Bipolar; Bitter and Be Gay) in favor of emboldened self-awareness and growth. She does this through an anecdotal commentary on her current struggles in the Big Apple’s musical theater scene and a lovely selection of eclectic material.

Backed by the amazing Rick Jensen (five-time MAC Award winner) and local jazz guitarist Terrence Brewer, Ozard gives us a glimpse into the world of a struggling artist and, in her typical authentic style, full of biting humor and moments of great tenderness. Realizing that NYC is so vast and you might seem invisible, she sings J.D. Souther’s “Prisoner in Disguise,” where “This city is no place to hide in/ Everybody knows your number.”  Ozard takes us on a very funny tour through some of her auditions. A big, strong vocal on Stephen Schwartz’s “No Good Deed” (Wicked) was stunning, with Ozard caustically remarking how there wouldn’t be a plus-sized Elphaba anytime soon. Her dream casting coup of Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables has her singing some delicious sides accompanied by backup singers Jennifer Haber and Francesca Camus. Another audition process as the nuns in a Sister Act touring production has Ozard struggling to belt a high G (of course she can). But she complains about having to be incessantly happy and sees herself more of a Nunsense or The Sound of Music kind of nun.

Working with a high-end casting director who feels Ozard transcends race, she offers herself as Rafiki in The Lion King singing “Circle of Life,” only to be shot down by Disney execs. It’s a moment of clarity for Ozard, an epiphany of sorts that now defines her genuineness and self-esteem. And it’s evident throughout this well-crafted and performed show. Staying with family in Nashville exposed her to country music illustrated on a lovely cover of “I Hope You Dance” (Mark D. Sanders/Tia Sillers). 

A shining moment of transcendence for me was a splendid rendition of Allison Moyet’s stirring ballad “One More Time,” one of the best love songs ever written. It may be Ozard’s strongest performance to date. The song speaks to commitment in the face of love’s rough moments, but still holding on and moving through. A hopeful Carly Ozard is moving through more shifts and allowing them to happen with newfound peace. She knows there’s always one more time of trying.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, Regional, San Francisco, San Francisco Cabaret Reviews

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