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Natasha Castillo: Feels Like Home

| May 3, 2017

Natasha Castillo

Feels Like Home

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, April 27, 2017

Reviewed by Rob Lester for Cabaret Scenes

Natasha Castillo

It’s always a pleasure to report on cabaret singers who continue growing. Such a rewarding case is that of glowing Natasha Castillo, evidencing stronger and more assured “chops” and ever-increasing stage presence and command. Graciousness and determination were evident from her earliest (2012) solo appearances. Now she’s in bloom. Working once again with the in-demand and decidedly dynamic duo—director Lennie Watts and Musical Director Steven Ray Watkins—the spotlight now more and more Feels Like Home sweet home.

“Sweet,” in its best, lower-sugar content sense does indeed fit this genial and genuine, gentle spirit with a sunny affect whose peppy “Put On a Happy Face” is no put-on. And, looking around the room, the power of suggestion worked. A follow-up mash-up of upbeat numbers about smiling featured one of the imaginative Watts/Watkins arrangements, was, perhaps redundant. Still, throughout the act, there was an ever-surprising variety of genres: a country medley; rock (a 1969 page from Page and Jones of Led Zeppelin, “Your Time Is Gonna Come,” with blistering bitterness); and, switching languages, this Malaysia-born girl radiantly recreated something her professional singer mom crooned back in Southeast Asia, “Ting Hai”—surely  s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g usual boundaries of the Great American Songbook selections. But it worked, sustaining attention. Patter sometimes felt too scripted—the crisp statement that each song connected to life chapters needed more follow-through. When she delivered the tales, they had impact.

Musical sounds were enriched by Matt Scharfglass, bassist with class; heavenly harmonies (Wendy A. Russell and Karen Mack, of vocal quartet Those Girls); and Watkins’ solid additional vocals. In other news, Miss Castillo cast herself in the role of self-accompanying guitarist charmingly, albeit briefly. Also making cameos: rollicking humor, life lessons, and heartbreak in heartfelt performances. And a Chinese gong!

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

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