Photo Credit: Jeffrey Huskins
Saturday, November 23rd
Additional Dates: January 30th, February 8th and February 21st at 7:00
I was already “Feelin’ good” walking into the sold-out room at Pangea, to hear Lauren Frazza, but after the show, I was feelin’ even better! Frazza, delivered a joyful, sweet, well-sung and moving show! Entering from the back of the room, greeting people as she made her way to the stage, she sang a song that I won’t give away but aptly stated what she deserved…what every artist deserves.
After a few tunes, including the show’s theme song, she launched into her first patter run which was natural and delivered “friend to friend.” She related to us the universal feeling of longing and what it takes to feel good.
Frazza has an eclectic taste in music with standards, pop and soft rock songs in this show adding a level of interest to the overall program. Her most moving sections, not surprisingly, were the “longing for love” section of the show, and a section of songs that related to her coping with this longing through her love of her dogs. This reviewer was moved by her very funny version of “The Dog Song” (Nellie McKay) into “You Make Me Feel Brand New” (Thom Bell / Linda Creed) sung to her older rescue dog. This segued into a stunning song sung to her “best friend,” a dog, Mia, that she had a long time and lost. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house!
She also delivered one-liners with the best of them. Before one song about a guy, she said, “They are tempting and delicious but not always good for you, sorta like a pint of Haagen Daz in one sitting!” This followed an updated version of a county classic which was universally understood.
Herein lies something to consider…when singing about men, does a guy get her? As a woman I relate to her but perhaps a little more sex appeal is needed in the songs about the guys. She’s a gal that men would also like to have a drink with but…she needs to be the kind of gal they want take home, not just for the night but to meet mom!
One of the hallmarks of a cabaret artist is the ability to make the listener hear the song, or the lyric, in a new way, no matter how often one has heard, or even sung, that same song before. When you listen to someone else sing a song that you know very well and hear a different take on it, you learn from them. I experienced this with Frazza, and it was a pleasure.
Full disclosure, Ms. Frazza works with Gregory Toroian, with whom I have a longtime association. This added another layer with which to appreciate Ms. Frazza, and of Mr. Toroian I would say this even if I had never heard him before; he is an extraordinary arranger and writes specifically for the singer that he’s working with. Each tune is treated differently and is not the same tune in Ms. Frazza’s voice as it would be in anyone else’s.
The only quibble I had with the show was with the show’s title song, “Feelin’ Good” (Newley / Briccusse). Frazza is so connected to all her material but in this song, the show’s title song, it felt like it was being done only because it was the title of the show. While nicely sung in the traditional way, it stuck out as different because there didn’t seem to be a strong lyric connection. Having such a creative music director/arranger, it would have served her well to find her own “take” on this very well-known tune or do a little more personalization work on this tune in context of the entire show.
Ms. Frazza has got all the makings of a new Cabaret star…a great voice, lovely straight tones, diversified taste in music and the ability to sing in different styles, clean patter (thanks, no doubt to director Jeff Stoner) and a stunning vulnerability on every single ballad, most notably in her higher register. However, it is her personality, likability and her desire to communicate that will take her to the next level. She’s a natural! All she needs is more stage time, which she will get when she brings the show back to Pangea on: January 30th, February 8th and February 21st at 7:00 pm. Pangea – 178 2nd Ave – New York, NY 10003 – (212) 995-0900 – www.pangeanyc.com