Joan Curto

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Joan Curto

Skokie Theatre, Skokie, IL, February 24, 2018

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes

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Joan Curto delighted fans—especially her suburban fans—in concert, making her Skokie Theatre debut. She was accompanied well by her trio of Beckie Menzie on piano, Joe Policastro on bass, and Phil Grateau on drums.
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The program featured many Curto signature songs, including a jazzy “Happy Talk” and a heartfelt “If He Walked into My Life” to wisely simple piano accompaniment. She shared personal stories about family and career, reflecting on her son’s coming of age. Her prelude to “All That Jazz” shared the hilarious memory of serving as back-up for Chita Rivera in a big venue Chicago concert. When Rivera turned upstage in a dance move, she made funny faces (Curto’s example was a rubber-faced hoot) at the back-up singers, who then struggled to remain straight-faced.
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Curto camped it up in “I Love to Love,” complete with a goofball French accent. The spare musicality in “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” enabled her to explore the vulnerability that colors that song. Because she is a confident presence, sharing her more fragile side is especially meaningful to her fans. In the second act, she found the sly, sexy wit that underlies “Mr. Monotony.” The show brought an effective mix of genres from Broadway to story songs: Amanda McBroom’s reflective “Putting Things Away” and Francesca Blumenthal’s  smartass “Let Me Be Your Guide.” It also brought an effective mix of jazz, sass, and heart.

Carla Gordon

Carla Gordon is a singer/songwriter, director, and producer. The Chicago Tribune cited her among “Chicago’s most accomplished cabaret performers….a major player in Chicago cabaret.” Reviewer Pam Peterson called her “Honey-voiced wisecracker!” Ageless Magazine called her performance as Sophie tucker, “A gem!” Gordon writes custom material for singers nationwide. Her flagship show, "Blacklisted," featuring songs made famous by artists blacklisted under McCarthyism, has toured to critical acclaim. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Cabaret Professionals and on the Advisory Board of the Skokie Theater. Her songs air on WFMT’s Midnight Special and are being performed performed by cabaret artists nationwide.