Lucille Carr-Kaffashan: How the Light Gets In

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Lucille Carr-Kaffashan

How the Light Gets In

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, April 27, 2019

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Lucille Carr-Kaffashan

Lucille Carr-Kaffashan is a songwriter’s best friend. It’s not just that she has perfect enunciation and a fine flexible voice, but that she truly inhabits a song, expressing meanings not just vocally but with fluid facial expressions and defining body language. Her new show, coming after two previous ones saluting female singer-songwriters, does the same for men.

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She discovered that male troubadours often reveal the emotions and fears that society forces them to normally leave unexpressed.

Backed by a top-flight trio of musicians (music director/pianist Jeff Cubeta, guitarist Sean Harkness, and bassist Matt Scharfglass) under the seamless direction of David Hilder, Carr-Kaffashan offered a wide range of contemporary material to illuminate her thesis without ever becoming didactic. In fact, a sly sense of humor and quick flashes of smiles kept the program moving along at a comfortable pace. While most of the selections were emotional and introspective, there were some comic highlights, including “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” (Ed and Patsy Bruce). And the introspective “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” (John Ondrasik) was framed with an amusing reference to John Williams’ theme from the superhero films.

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The singer discovered great depths in a pairing of two songs about the complicated relationships between male parents and children—“Father and Son” (Yusuf Islam) and “The Living Years” (B.A. Robertson/Mike Rutherford)—and found equal power in the tender “Stand by Me” (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller) and “If I Should Fall Behind” (Bruce Springsteen). She proclaimed, “this says it all,” singing about a man who found he had no other means of expression in “So I Sang” (Timothy James/Darius Rucker/Rivers Rutherford), which indeed summed up this excellent show.

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."