Photo Credit: D. Sabella
The Beach Cafe
December 6, 2019
Ann Kittredge presented “Movie Nite” with Music Director Alex Rybeck at the Beach Cafe, and by all accounts the evening was itself worthy of an Academy Award.
Kittredge has established herself as a musical force to be reckoned with. She is an elegant and consummate musician, with a golden hued voice, gossamer phrasing, and a substantial connection to lyric. Couple that with the musical arranging tour-de-force that is Alex Rybeck and magic happens at every turn.
The evening featured music from the movies, beginning with 2 songs from the “Broadway Melody of 1938” (You Made Me Love You & If I Had a talking Picture of You, James V. Monaco and Joseph McCarthy), and a stunning and delicate dance arrangement of As Time Goes By (Herman Hupfeld, 1931; and used in Casablanca, 1942). A “War Song” section featured They’re Either Too Young or Too Old (Frank Loesser and Arthur Schwartz), and a particularly beautiful arrangement of Lost Horizon (by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, from the 1973 film of the same title). The “Ginger Rodgers Songbook” section included versions of We’re In The Money (Harry Warren and Al Dubin, Gold Diggers of 1933) and Embraceable You (George and Ira Gershwin, from the 1942 movie of Girl Crazy). Somehow Rybeck was able to fuse these two songs together to create an impressive musical relationship between them, without calling attention to the rather “campish” tonal memory of We’re In The Money. Subtlety was on display from both Rybeck and Kittredge, so much so that the audience may have not even been aware of the artistic genius unfolding before them.
Some readers will wonder if this reviewer’s exuberance amounts to nothing more than hyperbole. I assure you it does not. Talent of this quality, from both Rybeck and Kittredge must be singled out, applauded, and held up as the gold standard of small venue performance. What Kittredge and Rybeck have been able to create, in such a relatively small amount of time is remarkable. Their first collaboration (with director Andrea Marcovicci) Fancy Meeting You Here: An Evening of Ahrens and Flaherty, introduced Kittredge to the New York cabaret scene, and was immediately critically acclaimed by this and other reviewers. But, as is often the case, the first show may not be as important as the second show, in terms of solidifying critical acclaim and public awareness. “Movie Nite” does not disappoint. In fact it is the logical progression for a theatrical singing actress, to start with more familiar repertoire and then (in this show) expand her musical vocabulary, and let us see more of her innate interpretations. One suspects that Rybeck may have influenced the choice of repertoire, or at the very least that the evening’s programming was a collaborative effort. Bravo to both artists for taking a familiar concept and turning it into unexpected art.
The evening concluded (all too soon) with a “Torch Segment” which included Stormy Weather (Harold Arlen, Ted Loehler); My Man (Maurice Yvain, Jacques Charles, Channing Pollock, Jule Styne & Sammy Cahn); I Fall In Love Too Easily (again, Styne and Cahn); The Man That Got Away (Harold Arlen, Ira Gershwin), and lastly, The Way We Were (Marvin Hamlisch). Both Rybeck and Kittredge outdid themselves on this set, surpassing previous expectations. The unique music arrangements and delicate vocal phrasing were stunning. And quite honestly, Kittredge’s rendition of The Way We Were will, for this reviewer, replace all other versions, in the corners of my mind.
Kittredge’s next outing will be a reprise of Fancy Meeting You Here: An Evening of Ahrens and Flaherty, at The Green Room 42 on March 5, 2020. To hear more of this dynamic duo, reserve your tickets today!