By Tom Alvarez, Indianapolis Performing Arts Examiner
April 22, 2015
Watching the young Ball State student performers in “Putting it Together: Cabaret’s New Generation” Friday at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club, it was easy to imagine many of them forging successful careers as professionals.
Directed by faculty members Johanna Tavianini, who also was the piano accompanist, and Ron Hellams, the students included Lincoln Clauss, Evan Duff, Laura Girard, Ashley Greenwood, Shea Pender, Jeff Pierpoint, Kayla Robertson, Nick Walters, Rachel Weinfeld and Ike (Isaac) Wellhausen.
The program included songs from contemporary musical theater, singer/songwriters, standards, and more.
Without question, all of the performers, most of whom are freshmen and sophomores, exhibited better than average vocal talent with most showing poise and appealing stage presence, but certain performers stood out.
Most impressive, and showing a surplus of personality, was Clauss who sang “What You’d Call a Dream” from the musical revue “Diamonds” in Act 1 and “The God-Why-Don’t-You-Love-Me Blues” from “Follies,” which demonstrated his gift for broad comedy in the style of Danny Kaye and Donald O’Connor.
Demonstrating vocal power and loads of showmanship was Robertson, a crowd favorite who sang Fats Waller’s “Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now” and “Fabulous Baby” from “Sister Act.”
Weinfeld, a music performance major, displayed vocal excellence in her renditions of Kaki King’s “I Never Said I Love You” and “Live Out Loud” from the Andrew Lippa musical, “A Little Princess.”
Based on their performances, photogenic Greenwood and Pierpoint are sure bets for working consistently in musical theater, cabaret or whatever entertainment genre they pursue. They absolutely shone in Rodgers and Hart’s “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” and Jason Robert Brown’s “Moving Too Fast,” respectively.
As far as the show itself, it’s unfortunate that song titles were not listed in the printed program and that the performers did not announce them from the stage. Many were familiar to this writer but chances are most were not known to the audience. But on the other hand, the crowd seemed to be made up mainly of supportive family, friends and Ball State faculty, so it probably wasn’t even an issue for them.
And rather than the scripted banter which sounded a bit stilted, it would have been preferable had each singer spoken off the cuff in order to reveal more of their personalities. Then, of course, there was the matter of the format which came off less as cabaret and more like an assembly line recital. Considering that time was limited and all ten students had to perform two songs (for which they were graded) each, it was understandable that things had to move along but the proceedings did seem overly rushed.
Despite the show’s aforementioned missteps, it was nevertheless refreshing to witness the budding talent on the Cabaret stage, be inspired by their commitment, be enveloped in their energy and touched by their artistry. If these ten are any indication of what the future holds, Broadway and the cabaret world will be in good hands, indeed.
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