Jody Mullen: A Thing Called Hope

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Jody Mullen

A Thing Called Hope

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, November 12, 2017

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Jody Mullen

Jody Mullen is a self-described “old-fashioned girl.” She possesses a beautifully controlled soprano that recalls the glory days of Broadway ingénues such as Barbara Cook and Florence Henderson, and she gravitates toward the same musical catalogue. With her lovely appearance and warm and slightly wicked personality, she seems born to play a Rodgers and Hammerstein heroine, and indeed she features four of their songs within her new show. A Thing Called Hope is intended as a response to the cynicism of today, designed to be an escape for an hour into kinder worlds.

Not that Mullen is totally unaware of the darker side of life. A reference to the Kardashians led in to the delightfully skeptical “How Can Love Survive?” and an introduction to bittersweet goodbye songs is the set-up for a deliciously over-the-top delivery of “If You Hadn’t, But You Did,” complete with water pistol aimed at audience members.

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But it is the tender choices that enchant: “It Only Takes a Moment” was transformed from a romance to the celebration of the love between a parent and a child, based on her young son’s passion for the film Wall-E. And a medley of “People Will Say We’re in Love” and “If I Loved You” brought the hesitant discovery of love inherent in both lyrics. This medley and all the musical numbers were arranged by Eddie Schnecker, who also provided expert piano and occasionally comic support.

The fly in the ointment: Mullen seemed attached to her microphone stand.

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She needs to free herself from a center-stage position maintained throughout the show.

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Learning to vary the visual picture, and having more fun in inhabiting the space, will help her to leap forward in her cabaret career.

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."