Daniel Abrahamson’s First Date

 

 

Daniel Abrahamson

 

 

 

by Sheila Watko

 

With the talent of a seasoned Broadway composer and the optimistic charm of an artist making it in New York City, Toronto-based composer and lyricist Daniel Abrahamson welcomed a full house to his delightful New York debut, First Date: Some Songs by Daniel Abrahamson, at Feinstein’s/54 Below on March 17.

Abrahamson’s opening number, “Falling in Love,” was a wide-eyed, endearing and hilarious ode to New York City in all its splendor and shortcomings, told from the charming perspective of a Canadian trying to make it in the city. Abrahamson performed this and the finale, “Something Real,” otherwise lending the microphone to a cast of talented performers while music director Matt Lowy led on the piano.

 

Kira Guloien

 

Besides “Falling In Love,” all of the evening’s songs came from original musicals Abrahamson has written including Girl’s End, LevelHead, Reservations, Funny Business and Stars of Mars, plus a few from a BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Blair Irwin sang two numbers from Girl’s End called “I’m Still Here,”—sung by a girl who doesn’t get picked for a zombie apocalypse team and is left behind to record cell phone footage of herself in case she can reach anyone—and “So Afraid.” Toward the end of the show, Mary Antonini took the mic to sing the finale from the same musical, “I’m Gonna Die!” which was a surprisingly upbeat and inspiring take on our heroine’s ultimate demise at the hands of the zombies. Kira Guloien sang “Manolo Blahniks,” a tragic tale of ruined high heels that had a tango feel to it. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but the piano music in this one reminded me a bit of the Sex And The City theme song, which I thought was perfect for the story being told.

 

Mary Antonini

 

Speaking of stories, each of Abrahamson’s songs tells a clear one, whether a piece was witty (“Virtual Girl” from LevelHead, performed by Abrahamson’s real-life partner Kayla James), touching (“Kindness,” performed by Leah Oster) or wacky (“Tech Support,” performed by Jordan Bell). His music covers a range of emotions: the entire room was laughing at “Family Isn’t Your Fault” (from Reservations, performed by Jake Epstein), while “Stuff” (from Reservations, performed by Bell) had me tearing up a bit. Abrahamson’s storytelling skills are his greatest strength, but certainly not his only. Each piece was catchy, memorable and full of clever rhyming lyrics and word play. Much of the music was also female-driven, with nine women out of eleven total performers. Abrahamson called his female castmates “powerhouse women,” and they absolutely were. Julia McLellan had my favorite vocal performance of the night with a soulful “Now It’s Personal” from Funny Business. Astrid Van Wieren and Perina Bromley belted out the duet “Gravity” from Stars of Mars and Teresa Tucci made her impressive New York debut with “Place in the Stars” and “Teenage Martian,” also from Stars of Mars.

 

Mary Antonini

 

Abrahamson has written and produced four musicals for the Canadian Fringe Festival over the past decade. Based on the music we heard in his first-ever New York show, Abrahamson may be just what this city needs: full of fresh ideas, creative stories, and compelling characters. I look forward to hearing more music from Abrahamson and truly hope to see one of his musicals come to life on a New York City stage someday soon.

 

First Date: Some Songs from Daniel Abrahamson took place March 17 at Feinstein’s/54 Below (254 West 54th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue). www.54below.com  

 

Photos: Sheila Watko

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