by: Peter Haas



It’s a pleasure, reviewing cabaret over time, to see a performer grow in her craft: singing better and better, creating an increasingly solid program, developing more ease on stage, and building a warmer, stronger bond with her audience. This was the case enjoying Gabrielle Stravelli in her most recent outing, at Feinstein’s/54 Below.


Gabrielle swings, with touches of jazz and scat, yet – presenting a blessedly non-patter, non-stop program of favorite standards and newer material – she stayed true to her material, some of it in unexpected but logical combinations. Clearly enjoying herself on stage – backed by Josh Richman on piano, Pat O’Leary on bass, and Eric Halvoyson on drums — she breathed fresh air into such pairings as “Dreamsville” (Mancini/ Evans/Livingston) with “Dream Dancing” (Cole Porter); “Can’t We Be Friends” (Paul James/Kay Swift) with “A Fine Romance” (Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields), and Stephen Foster’s moving “Hard Times Come Again” combined with Stephen Sondheim’s “Now You Know” and Strouse/Charnin’s Annie uplifter, “Tomorrow. .

Gabrielle’s growing talents as a songwriter herself came through in “Prism’ (her lyrics, music by her and Pat O’Leary, and “Didn’t You Tell Me” (music by Gabrielle and O’Leary, lyrics by Gabrielle and Jason Robinson).


Ending the show with “Ding – Dong! The Witch Is Dead!” (by Arlen and Harburg, from you-know-what, and the combination of “You’re Everything” (Chick Corea/Neville Potter) and “You and I” (Stevie Wonder), all to enthusiastic applause and cheers, Gabrielle left the stage to greet fans at the bar – a newer, welcome routine for the room’s performers.

While there, Gabrielle commented on lessons she’s learned studying with Marilyn Maye. “Commit to the lyrics … give yourself permission on stage … trust yourself.” It’s excellent advice for any performer – and evident, in Gabrielle’s talent and growth, that she has taken it to heart.

Photos: Magda Katz

October 6, 2015