A program of Fifties music sung with enthusiasm and love.
By Joel Benjamin
Marci Kraft clearly loves singing in front of her friends and loves her material, in the case of her show Rock (and Roll) Around the Clock, songs of the 1950s. Her voice is pleasant but her vocal technique is basic. She does, however, sing with a contagious enthusiasm, giving her interpretations a pleasant quality. Perhaps her interpretations of the Fifties songs needed more self-indulgence and panache, but a short medley of tunes from Fifties Broadway shows found her on surer footing, particularly in duets with her daughter Rachel Naar: “You’re Just in Love” (I. Berlin) and “If I Were a Bell” (F. Loesser).
She was smart to surround herself with the finest musicians, led by the always brilliant Billy Stritch, all of whom made her sound as good as possible. She developed the show with the peerless Marilyn Maye who clearly influenced Ms. Kraft’s stage appearance and manner bringing out all her winning qualities, particularly her obvious and total commitment to entertaining. Her between song banter was informative, but a bit naïve and uneasily presented.
Ms. Kraft does have a bright personality. She also was smart to choose a program of songs with built-in emotional and social resonance, including all the early rock and roll songs such as “Rock Around the Clock” (Max C. Freedman/Jimmy De Knight) and “I Hear You Knocking” (Dave Bartholomew/Pearl King). She even had a section on Elvis Presley which, in part, consisted of a sweetly sung “Love Me Tender” (Presley/Vera Matson) and a rather square interpretation of “Jailhouse Rock” (Lieber/Stoller).
Ms. Kraft’s two back-up singers, Wendy Russell and Lorinda Lisitza, filled in any musical gaps with their totally on target harmonies and stage manner. Mr. Stritch’s band included some of the wittiest and stylish musicians around: Saadi Zain on bass, Daniel Glass on drums and Jack Cavari on guitar.
As a relative beginner in the art form of cabaret, Ms. Kraft gives her all. Perhaps with enough stage experience and continuing to surround herself with the best, the artist inside her will burst forth.
February 4, 5, 6 & 7, 2015
Don’t Tell Mama Cabaret 343 West 46th St. between 8th & 9th Avenues New York, NY
Reservations: 212-757-0788 or www.donttellmamanyc.com