Carmen Severino: Phoenix Rising—A Musical Journey Through Breast Cancer

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Carmen Severino

Phoenix Rising—A Musical Journey Through Breast Cancer

Skokie Theatre, Skokie, IL, October 28, 2018

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes

Carmen Severino

Looking elegant and confident in her beaded claret gown, Carmen Severino offered personal reflections through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from breast cancer. Phoenix Rising addresses different stages of the illness with a song to accompany each specific phase. Severino is feisty about the uncooperative, patronizing insurance company.

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The song selection is a fierce “Hit Me with Your Best Shot.” She honors the memories of other cancer survivors who are no longer here to tell their own stories with “Remember Me.” Some songs fit better into the format than others relative to the intent of the show. “Maybe This Time” is a hopeful reflection on finding the right doctor. The lyrics to “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?

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” made for a somewhat odd commentary on the loss of a body part. A challenge to a show of this nature is that it can easily become too serious. “Weed, Glorious Weed” (a parody of “Food, Glorious Food”) brought some much-needed comic relief, as did Severino’s original lyrics to “Get Me Some Cans.” Theatrical conventions like singing to props or through a picture frame were distracting. Severino sings a story with the best. She needs only to do just that.

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.