Ari Axelrod: A Celebration of Jewish Broadway

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Ari Axelrod

A Celebration of Jewish Broadway
Skokie Theatre, Skokie, IL, November 30, 2019
Reviewed by Carla Gordon

Ari Axelrod

During their shows, most cabaret singers do a fair bit of talking. When they tell us about what they have done it is most often moderately interesting.
However, when through a seamless offering of dialogue and song a singer shares how he feels, we are compelled to sign on for the journey.

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It is arguably that sensibility that is making Ari Axelrod a force to be reckoned with in cabaret.
His craft ain’t bad either. Axelrod’s supple tenor can land the jokes in “Shy” (Once Upon a Mattress) or Jason Robert Brown’s “Shicksa Goddess” and then moments later, in upper register, convey the fragility of Bernstein and Sondheim’s “Somewhere” delivered from a Jewish viewpoint. Although a relatively young performer, Axelrod is a mature interpreter, growing the Carole King/Gerry Goffin “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” from familiar sensual pop standard to a longing and neediness that we can relate to.
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Axelrod balances his twin passions for musical theater and Judaism with the right touch, demonstrating melodic relationships between Great American Songbook classics and liturgical Jewish music. While there is a bit of edutainment in this by no means does this concert turn into a lecture. Another highlight was “God Knows Where” by singer/songwriter Daniel Cainer (who recently participated in the Chicago Jewish Theater Festival). Axelrod blended the delicate balance of the prosaic detail that makes Cainer’s story relatable along with deep faith, which this wistful song demands. He took moments to make his Skokie concert locally relevant with a few Chicago references and a loving shout out to his grandparents in the audience who live near the highly Jewish-populated suburb of Skokie. Music director Nick Sula gave Axelrod just the right support in a concert that made of high musical demands.

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.