Lina Koutrakos

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Lina Koutrakos

Crazy Aunt Helen’s, Washington, D.C., October 1, 2022,

Reviewed by Michael Miyazaki

Lina Koutrakos
Photo: Kevin Alvey

At the outset of her show at Crazy Aunt Helen’s, Lina Koutrakos advised the audience that even though it had been billed as a remount of her award-winning show of a decade ago, Torch, she had put together a new show for the occasion. However, she promised, “I will be torch-y, and this should be torch-ish.”

Anyone who attended the show to hear torch songs would not have been disappointed. A medley of “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” and “If I Were Your Woman” made the pain of unrequited love thrilling. “Addicted to Love” was an operatically gospel-tinged view of suffering. And in “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” she turned the top of the piano into a late-night, zinc-topped bar tended to by a mixologist pianist, Jon Weber.

However, the show featured a newfound lightness and joy in Koutrakos’ work. This could be the result of her new collaboration with Weber. A versatile stylist, he is a master of creating the many moods and micro-moments that bring such depth to her work. But, when given the choice, however, he seems to choose the brighter paints in the musical palate. Still, another armchair analyst could posit that Koutrakos’ status as a newlywed could be responsible for the new tone.

A number of songs in the set reflected her happiness in her relationship and her summer marriage. They included her wry delight in “Second Time Around”; a medley of “Something in the Way He Moves” and “But Beautiful” that featured open chords that longed to be completed; “That’s All,” which Koutrakos said was played at their wedding, and “It Could Happen to You.”

Koutrakos and Weber had spent the afternoon before the show conducting a cabaret workshop for the DC Cabaret Network. However, the show was its own masterclass, showcasing the many cabaret techniques Koutrakos uses so well. These included the way she quickly established rapport with an audience; her balance of thrilling singing and evocative storytelling; the way small details, such as the inflection of “I know” in “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road),” can make such a difference; and the power of a well-placed sigh.

Her encore was Tom Wait’s “Take It with Me.” The sentiment in that song, “all you love is all you own,” was an inspiring final message of the show.
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Michael Miyazaki

Michael Miyazaki is a Washington DC/Baltimore area-based performer, director, and writer. He has performed at various venues in the DC area, and his most recent show is Thanks for the Memories: The Musical Legacy of Bob Hope. He has appeared with numerous local theater troupes including Scena Theatre, the Source Theatre, and Fraudulent Productions. He has attended the Perry-Mansfield Cabaret Workshop (working with master teachers Andrea Marcovicci, Karen Mason, Barry Kleinbort, Christopher Denny, Shelly Markham, and David Gaines), and has also studied under Sally Mayes, Tex Arnold, Lina Koutrakos, Rick Jensen, Amanda McBroom, and Alex Rybeck. He is the creator of the blog The Miyazaki Cabaret Update: DC & Beyond (currently on hiatus) and is a member of the DC Cabaret Network and the Arts Club of Washington.