NY Cabaret Review By John Weatherford
Danielle Wade is best known for her success on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Over the Rainbow, which aired on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) in 2012. As a result, she won the role of Dorothy in the Toronto production of The Wizard of Oz and, followed with the North American Tour. This concert was presented by the composers, Derek Gregor and Sam Carner, to introduce their music and Ms. Wade’s substantial abilities. She had caught the attention of the songwriters in late 2011 at a workshop at the University of Windsor. It was there, for the first time, they heard her sing one of their songs. They were inspired to include her in their 2012 Barely Legal Show-Tune Extravaganza, a concert they do every summer in New York.
Needless to say, Ms. Wade made an impression on these young men. And, she will make an impression on you, as well. She has a unique style and presentation that suit the writings of these fellows. Her interpretations are timely, as is the music and storytelling lyrics found in their music. I particularly enjoyed the quieter songs rather than the volume-generated tunes presented in the intimate cabaret space at The Metropolitan Room. That may have more to do with me, than the house packed with adoring and appreciative youth.
Mr. Gregor and Mr. Carner are on a right path by joining with an up-and-coming singer. It is clear she understands and values their talents and ambitions. Many of the songs for the evening came from their Off-Broadway musical, Unlocked, which played at the Duke Theater in the summer of 2013. “Off to the East”, from that musical, was a stand-out of the evening. It was a duet sung by Ms. Wade and Derek Klena. Mr. Klena’s voice is strong and his passion for the song’s message was clear. Another duet, “Tie Me Up” with Stephen C. Anthony, added humor and variety to the evening.
I was particularly touched by “Shadow of You” (lyrics by Selda Sahin). It was written as part of a film score for the movie Grind. It was supported with all the expectations of a hit song – love, loss and hope.
Gregor and Carner’s current effort is an untitled adaptation of Toast by Rex Rose. The final number “Advice to a Young Firefly”, was from the Toast adaption. Ms. Wade, joined by Natalie Weiss, finished the evening by taking this song on its flickering flight.
Ms. Wade is fortunate to have these men behind her, and they are fortunate to have found so stunning a presenter for their gifts. This combined effort will serve them both. I look forward to their next event with great interest.
Ms. Wade was surrounded with highly skilled musicians and, point-on arrangements. They include; Jacob Yates on cello, Joshua Samuels on drums, Eric Davis on guitar, Lily Chiu on violin and Mr. Gregor on piano. It is clear these young artists care deeply about each other. They see a future in which they desire to be a part. For all of them, I wish the greatest success.
*Photos/Video: Russ Weatherford