Lois Morton: Edith, Marlene, Sophie…and Me

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Lois Morton

Edith, Marlene, Sophie…and Me

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, November 4, 2017

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Lois Morton

Songwriter and chanteuse Lois Morton returned to Don’t Tell Mama with a new celebration of iconic singers who performed in languages other than English. The singer admitted she conceived the show in order to show off her command of a variety of languages (German, French, Yiddish, and a smattering of others), which she did with ease and conviction, often switching between these languages and English within a single song.

Between the selections, Morton offers up a great deal of information about the performers, some of it fascinating (a tale of Sophie Tucker’s dangerous journey to the United States, involving a surprising hero), and some take on too lecture-ish a tone (some business with photographs proved awkward and unnecessary).

But the song choices are a delight, from the exotic “La Foule” (Angel Cabral/Michel Rivgauche) to the comic “You’ve Gotta See Mama Every Night” (Con Conrad/Billy Rose) to the classic “Lili Marlene” (Hans Leip/Tommy Connor/Norbert Schultze). Each was delivered with a simplicity and clarity that enriched it, with an emphasis on a clarity of lyrics.
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Morton also offers up a few of her own songs, including the delightful “English Doesn’t Turn Me On,” detailing her attraction to foreign language and foreign men (rhyming “prepare us” with “Banderas”), as well as a very moving tribute to her late husband, “The Last Goodbye.”

Providing able assistance was musical director Paul Greenwood, whose own simple approach to the melodies complemented the singer. Throughout, Morton’s joy of life infused the program with energy and delight.
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Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."