Liora Michelle: The Greedy Soprano

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Liora Michelle

The Greedy Soprano

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, January 11, 2019

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Liora Michelle

Is Liora Michelle a prima donna who wants to be a clown? Or a jazz vocalist who wants to be a Broadway balladeer? In her cabaret debut, under the guidance of director Lennie Watts and music director Bill Zeffiro, she revealed all these sides to her personality along with so much more.

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The lovely lady possesses sparkling, expressive eyes and a command of body language as well as precise enunciation (not always expected in operatically-trained sopranos). But she communicated to the audience in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Greek, even turning “Tu Vuo Fa l’Americano” (Renato Carosone) into a riotous comic showstopper.

“Metropolitan Scat” (Cheryl Coons/Michael Duff) seemed ideally written for her, with its tale of a diva who wants to swing. “Half a Lifetime” is a beautiful love song composed by Zeffiro with lyrics by Chris Ceraso, in which the vocalist found the depth of emotion contained within the song. Her Broadway material included early Irving Berlin (“Call Me Up Some Rainy Afternoon”), prime Rodgers and Hart (“He Was Too Good for Me”), and obscure George Gershwin (“Vodka” with lyrics by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II), all handled with appropriate flair and approach.

A very special moment was the blending of “Fifty Percent” (Alan and Marilyn Bergman/Billy Goldenberg) and “One Fine Day” (Gerry Goffin/Carole King) to create a portrait of “the other woman” filled with both doubts and hope. In contrast, she zeroed in on the personality of a gold digger whose source of income has temporarily run out with “Don Juan” (Jerome Leiber/Michael Stoller). And overheated passion was expressed with flair in both “Perfidia” (Alberto Domnguez) and “Jealousy” (Belen Ortega/Jacob Gade).

Michelle’s confidence in her performance was impressive for someone appearing in a small room for the first time.

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She is occasionally hesitant in her patter, but this flaw will clearly vanish with experience. She is unquestionably a welcome addition to the art form of cabaret.

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."