Carmen Cusack

| April 24, 2017

Carmen Cusack

Feinstein’s 54/Below, NYC, April 16, 2017

Reviewed by Randolph B. Eigenbrode for Cabaret Scenes

Carmen Cusack

Carmen Cusack, who impressed Broadway audiences in last season’s Bright Star, left her newest cabaret installment untitled. What a shame —  as with a showing this strong, she could have rightfully christened it Bright Star 2: A Diva’s Return as her talent and charm radiated like a meteorite.

Forgoing traditional musical theater tunes, Cusack focused on the music of her youth—country, blues, gospel, folk—and wove enchanting patter with authentic stylings at every turn. Entering the venue with the self-penned “Along the Way,” she sang into a megaphone, almost defiant in her singularity. Indeed, it’s exciting to feel such legitimacy from a cabaret artist—there is no pretense with Cusack. To put it simply: she sings from her soul, and each moment she is hyper-present, wearing her emotions and whims on her sleeve.

This was particularly the case in “Songbird” (Christine McVie), perfect to exploit her nimble voice, as well as “Stop” (Sam Brown/Gregg Sutton/Bruce Brody), where she stroked the phrasing with Mississippi Delta flair. Cusack is also deft at comedy, especially her daffy asides, and an ode to her first love, “Shane,” which she also self-penned. Here, she displays a mischievous glint, playing upon the innocence of young passion (as well as some stretches of the truth for effect).

The show runs a bit long, particularly the second half, and Cusack seemed to lose some steam in her last few numbers. “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (Gerry Goffin/Carole King), while focused, lacked the clarity of arc that seemed present earlier in the program.  But, like a pro, she delivered for the encore, much to the delight of the crowd, with Bright Star’s “If You Knew My Story” (Steve Martin/Edie Brickell), cementing Cusack as a bright star to be reckoned with for quite some time.    

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, New York City, New York City Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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