Photo Credit: unknown
The Beach Cafe
Feb 23, 2019
It’s been established one can be seduced by a voice, and Celia Berk is a master seductress. Or should I say Berk is a mistress of seduction? Who cares about PC semantics? When the performer, voice, accompanist (jazz pianist Sean Gough), and choice of material renders the goods with the enticingly cool/hot polish Berk displayed in Comes Love, her recent show at The Beach Café, one willingly surrendered to temptation and happily followed her wherever she wanted to take us.
Oh, those thrilling low notes! Those delicious high notes! And all those warm as honey-in-a-cup-of-smoky-Earl Grey Tea-notes in between! And all of them showcased by songs that were perfectly chosen not only for the theme of the show – love in all its variations – but also for the voice Berk used to wrap around every word she sang with her beguiling pitch-perfect delivery.
Keeping her patter to a minimum, Berk and Gough concentrated on the music, giving smooth, jazzy, and deeply felt performances of a set list that included standards like Comes Love (Lew Brown, Charlie Tobias, & Sam Stept, 1939), Falling In Love With Love (Lorenz Hart & Richard Rodgers, The Boys From Syracuse, 1938), and Love Walked In (Ira Gershwin & George Gershwin, used in the film “The Goldwyn Follies,” 1938), among others, as well as a few former standards such as Right As The Rain (E.Y. Harburg & Harold Arlen, Bloomer Girl, 1944), and in a medley with Dreamer, aka Vivo Sonhando (Antonio Carlos Jobim, w/ English lyrics by Gene Lees), the formerly ubiquitous The Shadow Of Your Smile (Paul Francis Webster & Johnny Mandel, used in the film “The Sandpiper,” 1965), with which Berk made a strong case for the song to reclaim its place in the popular canon.
Berk also included a few surprises, most notably a refreshing I Want To Hold Your Hand (John Lennon & Paul McCartney, 1963), and a grandishly enchanting Something Sort Of Grandish (E.Y. Harburg & Harold Arlen, Finian’s Rainbow, 1947), and she used her sly wit to perfect advantage with the comic novelty numbers At The Same Time (John Forster & Mary Rodgers, from Rodger’s album Hey, Love, release date 1997), and particularly Can’t Stop Talking About Him (Frank Loesser, used in the film “Let’s Dance,” 1950); Berk wryly noted the sheet music for the Loesser song contained this note about the tempo with which it should be played and sung: “You’re on your own.”
It was an interesting note to mention, as Berk and Gough have embarked on a new collaboration in which Berk is delving into the jazzy roots of cabaret performance; the two of them may have been “on their own” with that number, but it was clearly apparent both artists were in sync from the first note of the evening to the last, their burgeoning partnership already in full bloom and capable of not only elevating the music they’ve chosen to perform, but also the mood and heart rate of the audience lucky enough to be drawn in and, yes, seduced by Berk’s magnetic take on the yin-yang of love.
Berk and Gough will be performing Comes Love again, this time at the Birdland Theater on Tuesday, April 23 at 7:00pm.