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Julie Reyburn: Fate Is Kind

| April 26, 2017

Julie Reyburn

Fate Is Kind

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, April 22, 2017 

Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors for Cabaret Scenes

Julie Reyburn

Julie Reyburn picks up the children’s classic Goodnight Moon and begins her show, Fate Is Kind, inviting you to join her through books and songs on a journey of wishes, memories, and dreams. The books she chooses are written for children, but they deliver adult truths. Accompanying Goodnight Moon with “The Child in Me Again,” Reyburn reveals, “I look for myself, leaving no stone unturned/ Oh, I need to recapture the truths I’ve unlearned,” and her journey is too tempting not to join. With compelling emotional connection and a splendid mezzo-soprano voice, she shows meticulous taste in meaningful songs and the ability to arrange them into a theater piece. Her intelligence, warm delivery, and keen phrasing draws in listeners to experience them with her. 

Outstanding phrasing is heard in her rendition of “On the Steps of the Palace” from Into the Woods. She delivers Sondheim’s racing lines as Cinderella purposely loses her shoe on the palace steps. “But then what if he knew/who you were when you know/That you’re not what he thinks/That he wants?” Not so easy to speak, much less sing with understanding. Reyburn’s rendition is a delight. At one point, she turns to her adult side, slouches against the piano, and sings Veyler Hildebrand’s “The Glow”  (“What I really need is one more drink/Tonight”), another example of her insightful phrasing and stress. With little patter, she lets us know that these songs have long inspired her and, in this show, she revisits childhood and growth. She includes “The Ugly Duckling” and switches its forlorn spirit into a spark of confidence. She looks to the past with Dar Williams’ “When I Was a Boy,” remembering her tomboy years, distinctly acknowledging gender roles and how they limit children and, consequently, adults.  The other book in Reyburn’s program is The Velveteen Rabbit, a moving story about a boy and his toy rabbit that yearns to be real. The show moves into a more sophisticated and literate mood about growth and the changes in life. There is the hard-driving determination of “I’m Not Afraid of Anything” by Jason Robert Brown, and his clever “Stars and the Moon.” A meditative pairing boosted both “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress” (Jimmy Webb) and “I Had a Dream About You” (Maury Yeston). “Children Will Listen” by Stephen Sondheim is a lesson for all adults. Wrapping up the show are Ned Washington and Leigh Harline’s optimistic “When You Wish Upon a Star” and an encore, “From a Distance” by Julie Gold.

Apropos and imaginative, Julie Reyburn’s Fate Is Kind has won a MAC Award and Bistro Award. Mark Janas, her longtime musical director and pianist, is invaluable for his arrangements and accompaniment—a soulmate in music.

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

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The singing is exceptional.

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