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Selda and Derek: Say “Hi” to Craig Franke

| January 15, 2018

Selda and Derek

present

Say “Hi” to Craig Franke

The Duplex, NYC, January 7, 2018

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Craig Franke

Experienced playwright/lyricist and composer combo, Selda Sahin and Derek Gregor, have uncovered a new intriguing gem in musical-inclined writer, Craig Franke (pictured). Franke, dressed in a suit and tie, took part in his first show in New York, performing two collections of originals split in the middle by a teaser of Selda and Derek’s new musical project.

Gregor joked that Franke would over-share as he introduced his music. This was mostly true, although the fun stories added color to Franke’s music. Most of those revolved around the development of his budding career, from meeting Gregor to showing up at The Duplex. Once upon a time, Franke called Gregor out for “not even knowing his name.” When, in fact, he didn’t know his team member’s name, he agreed to listen to Franke’s work, launching the valuable mentorship.

Most of Franke’s early work and first block of songs focused on his relationship status. While the topic is typical and the titles not straying far from the mean, his piano pieces and the lyrics’ inherent rhythm gave lines like “my feet stay on the ground when you come around,” a fresh vibe (from “You’re Not Here” sung by Christian Fary). HIs talent for unique lyrics (and sweet piano pieces) developed even further in the second set of songs, with my personal favorite, “Sensitive Player,” about a man who is in touch with his feelings while hitting on multiple women at the bar. Miles Tillman, Franke’s choice in singer for the song, also delivered spoken lines exceptionally well, such as when he shrugged his shoulders, gave a charming smile and said, “That’s enough about the second time I backpacked through the Rockies.”

Jake McKenna and Kaitlin Sacco also performed, both singing well. Perhaps the best of the bunch was Tillman, but McKenna also demonstrated a melodic fluidity that helped bring Franke’s music to life.

Selda and Derek’s work had a more cohesive feel, as it all related to a single musical about Amish youth on Rumspringa. Each of the songs was pretty good, as the imagined characters dealt with conflicting senses of freedom, desire, and loyalty to home. Derek’s song introductions were much shorter, as he detailed only the characters and circumstances. Perhaps there were a few too many characters, but — given only a handful of songs– there isn’t much to comment on about the musical’s story.

My favorites of the duo’s material were “What We Do” and “I’d Pick the Sea.” The lyrics were awesome and relatable. In “What We Do,” an Amish girl reminisces about watching cars go by and her mother telling her, “These kids are just like you. They just might go faster getting where they are going to.” Adelaide Sleeman performed this crisply and with the listlessness of one pining for lost youth. She also worked with McKenna in the duet, “I’d Pick the Sea,” where they argue about choosing the road or the sea.

Kathryn Francisco, Troy Iwata, and Johnny Shea also sang Selda and Derek’s work. Each is a talented singer as well. Derek performed on the guitar and piano for all of the songs, alongside Steven Walker (guitar) and Mark Leitz (drums).

I look forward to seeing more work from Franke, as well as Selda and Derek’s finished work! It was exciting to hear them talk about working through the writing process. Look for them bringing new projects back to The Duplex for a sneak preview!

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

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