Marci Kraft: Come Party with Marci: Marci Gives Her Regards to Broadway

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Marci Kraft

Come Party with Marci: Marci Gives Her Regards to Broadway

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, April 12, 2023

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Marci Kraft
Photo: Kevin Alvey

Marci Kraft possesses enormous energy, a capacious memory for lyrics, and sheer joy in performing. She also has a fine Broadway belt and an appealing well-controlled contralto range. The show was “created and directed” by cabaret legend Marilyn Maye, and it is highly evident how their two personalities blended together to form this program. Most of the material was chosen and performed with care and comfort and was an excellent fit for the performer’s talent (“Dancing Queen” may have been a mistake, but a minor one). The singer attacked and devoured her material as if it were a five-course meal, which left little doubt as to how much Kraft loves Broadway musicals, especially those from the Golden Age. What was missing here was an editor.

In what may be a cabaret record, Kraft’s opening number was a 14-song medley that ran 20 minutes (including “Who Will Buy?,” “On a Wonderful Day Like Day Like Today,” “Getting to Know You,” “Consider Yourself,” “Hey Look Me Over,” and more.) A medley usually includes only snippets of various songs, but here there was at least a full verse and chorus of each. Any one or two or even three of these numbers would have made a fine introduction, but clumping this much material together with no logical connection and no dramatic build became rather tiring—and there were another 25 songs to go.

There were some smart moments. In introducing “Nine to Five,” Kraft spoke of her employment at The New York Times. This personalized the song; a good deal more of this would have been helpful indeed. Most numbers were just introduced by the name of the show they were from, their songwriter (s), and the theater where they played in. (This may have been helpful information, but it wasn’t personal.) Also clever was a sequence that included a well-sung medley of material from West Side Story, followed by two lighter Shakespeare-inspire songs: “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” and the rarely performed “Shakespeare Lied” (How Now, Dow Jones). This was smart cabaret writing. But what was the emotional or dramatic logic of the sequence that went from “Razzle Dazzle” to “Popular” to “Nine to Five” to “So Long Dearie” to “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat”? All great numbers, but there was no connection.

The always welcome Sidney Myer joined Kraft for a reverse-gender version of “Do You Love Me,” as well as a spirited “To Life!”, which added some variety to the evening. Excellent support was provided by pianist David Pearl, bassist Tom Hubbard, drummer Daniel Glass, and guitarist Jack Cavari. Ultimately, what kept the evening from being a complete delight was the pure weight of the material. In cabaret, very often less is indeed more.

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."