Joan Curto: Happy Talk—Songs for Dreamers, Schemers, and In-betweeners

| August 10, 2017

Joan Curto

Happy Talk—Songs for Dreamers, Schemers, and In-betweeners

Davenport’s, Chicago, IL, June 9, 2017

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes

Joan Curto

In South Pacific, the wise Bloody Mary sings, “If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true? In Happy Talk—Songs for Dreamers, Schemers, and In-betweeners, Joan Curto explores that question. She shares both her lovely vocal instrument and heart, which was more open in Happy Talk than in prior shows. This outing is also engaging because its musical selections vary. There’s Amanda McBroom’s “Old Love” about reuniting once again as senior citizens. Curto honors its simplicity and charming little twist. She tells true with Susan Werner’s “Don’t Work with Your Friends,” which is loaded with sly jabs. It was preceded by spoken and unspoken zingers between the singer and musical director Beckie Menzie, all of which were delightful. Another effective comedy song was “I Regret Everything,” now a signature tune for Curto. She camps up the European accent and self-absorption. “I Can See Clearly Now” transcends from a pleasant pop tune into actual epiphany, looking toward a brighter future. The Bergmans/Mandel “Where Do You Start?” is a cabaret standard. Sadly, too many singers over-sentimentalize this song about a relationship that is both ending and never-ending. Curto lets prosaic lyrics about small possessions become the door to the story. She delivers “Tomorrow” not as an eleven o’ clock-style Broadway belt, but as a gentle prayer, and it is compelling. If there is an eleven o’clock number in Happy Talk, it is arguably Kander and Ebb’s “Colored Lights,” in which Curto artfully plumbs the depths of this multi-layered boffo song that captures the essences of both casual romancing and the longing for meaningful and passionate love that ultimately follows. Jim Cox on bass added energy to the rhythms and richness to the ballads through his well-executed voicings. Here’s hoping that Joan Curto continues to present Happy Talk. It’s a dream of a show.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, Chicago, Chicago Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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