Motma Music, RubyBird Studios – Brooklyn
December 17, 2015, www.johnabbottphoto.com
My favorite artist of 2017 didn’t even release an album this year. René Marie first came to my attention in 2013 with the release of “I Wanna Be Evil,” a collection of songs originally recorded by Eartha Kitt. Later that year I saw here in Tree of Life, a production of the remarkable SPARC Live Art Series.
I was impressed, but it wasn’t until I picked up The Sound of Red, her most recent CD, released in May of 2016, that I really began to appreciate when a gigantic talent she is. Of course I digitized the CD and listened to it constantly on my iPhone, but if it had been back in the day and I owned the vinyl album, I would probably have worn out the grooves by the beginning of 2017! I was completely unaware of the other 9 albums she had released.
Then I stumbled on a YouTube video in which she performs the most poignant version of “Oh Shenandoah” I’ve ever heard. Continue reading
Though I go to the theater often, I’ve not reviewed any theatrical productions on this site, but a couple weeks ago I saw the New Rep’s production of Man of La Mancha, and really want to laud the production here. Man of La Mancha was the first musical I remember seeing performed live. It was a production at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, VA. I don’t remember very much about that performance except that it was completely enthralling. The idealistic young man I was found himself identifying in with the madman trying to change the world. I was also enamored with the idea that a writer can be a force for good in the world, simply by inspiring others.
I’ve been obsessed with the musical ever since. I was so fascinated by the story that I read the original novel by Cervantes. But it’s really the musical I’m obsessed with. I’ve seen several productions, including the film adaptation, and I own the cast recordings of most productions that I haven’t seen. Each version has it’s merits, but the New Rep’s production is really something special. Everything about this production works, from the effective use of the performance space and the integration of the musicians into the ensemble, to the lighting and set design. Continue reading