Autumn Hurlbert

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Autumn Hurlbert

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, August 5, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Autumn Hurlbert

Autumn Hurlbert bounded onto the stage at the beginning of her first solo cabaret show and thanked her audience for “spending so much money.” She then offered up a free-wheeling program that reflected her tastes and the many aspects of her life, sharing tidbits about her existence as wife, mother, performer, and someone dealing with ADHD. Pretty much everything was on the table, including a vocabulary that included a great deal of casual and charming “colorful” words.

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The performer also displayed an amazing vocal range from a Brenda Lee vibrato used well on country melodies such as “Cowboy Take Me Away” (Martie Seidel and Marcus Mummon) to a very well controlled Broadway belt and a coloratura soprano of such purity that it brought the young Barbara Cook to mind. Both of these voices were well used on the show off number “Should I Be Sweet?

” (Vincent Youmans and Buddy De Sylva).
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A medley of “There Won’t Be Trumpets” and “A Quiet Thing” also showed her wide range of volume and force as she gave those songs a political spin.

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She summed up her issues with ADHD with a very clever song written for her by Jonny Lee, Justin Long, Joanna Burns, and Amanda Duncan: “Hyperactive Supersonic Brain.” Whether it is this condition or simply the thrill of doing her first solo show, the flaw in the evening was that Hurlbert attempted to display everything she could do rather than focusing the program on a few aspects of her talent.

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This led to a show that was both exciting and exhausting at the same time.

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Giving her strong support throughout the evening were music director Steven Jamail on piano, Quentin Robinson on drums, Colin Dead on bass, and Micah Burgess on guitar. A guest appearance by Nick Rashad Burroughs added a hysterical moment in a gospel duet of “The Theme from Duck Tails” (Mark Mueller).

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."