by Monica Charline Brown
Lucille Carr-Kaffashan pieced together a truly enjoyable evening of cabaret in her latest stint at Don’t Tell Mama, one of midtown’s hottest cabaret boites. The show was called “Unwritten – Celebrating 21st Century Female Singer-Songwriters.” Titling the evening after the 2004 Natasha Bedingfield hit, she opened and closed the show with a version of this song. “Unwritten” is such a beautiful, not to mention catchy song, both poetically alone and musically. Bedingfield actually wrote “Unwritten” for her brother’s birthday present one year, as she didn’t have enough money to buy him one. With themes running through the song such as living every day to its utmost potential, letting go of worry, and the power of your dreams, it was a perfect tone-setter for the gift Lucille was about to give the audience.
Lucille featured artists like Adele, Annie Lennox, Sara Bareilles, Susan Werener, Meghan Trainor, and Tracy Chapman. She expressed her need to tell the story of the contemporary woman, encapsulating a variety of ages. Lucille, the Manhattan Association of Cabaret and Clubs Hanson Award winner, dubbed these women the new generation of Carly Simon and Janis Ian. It had been in her heart and mind to share the songs. Director David Hilder and Musical Director/Pianist Jeff Cubeta created an excellent dramatic arc of storytelling that blended up-tempos, ballads, and unexpected songs over a variety of genres (pop, folk, indie, country, bluegrass, Broadway . . . you name it!) For example, Lucille began Taylor Swift’s “Shake If Off” at a jazzy, standard tempo, picked it up at the chorus, and changed the rap in the middle to talk about loving or hating Taylor Swift. This is just one instance of the originality Lucille and her team brought to these instantaneously recognizable songs.
Sean Harkness on the guitar, and Matt Sharfglass on the bass, were the perfect instrumentation to Lucille’s fine instrument. You can tell she is totally in her comfort zone, at ease owning the stage. As a songstress, she is equally capable of handling a comedic, bubbly number and an introspective tune of feeling. Her warmth and spirit allow you to get lost. Lucille’s take on “She Used To Be Mine” from Waitress, a soon-to-be standard in the musical theatre and pop world, was heartbreakingly honest and stunning.
Lucille’s past two cabaret shows, one about The Beatles, and one focused on 1970’s female singer-songwriters, were both critically acclaimed. I can’t imagine “Unwritten” will not be added to that roster.
Don’t Tell Mama (343 West 46th Street, NYC)