For someone who already knows Deborah Zecher’s story, the (ingenious) name of her latest cabaret, JEWISH CAROLING, might suggest that the rabbi is doing a club act focused on Judaism and the December holidays. If, however, a layman viewing the Don’t Tell Mama website were to see the show’s (again, ingenious) name, it might raise questions: are there any Jewish Christmas carols, like Christmas songs ? And, if so, why is this fact not better known? Is this a show that anyone can go to see or will the musical material only be relevant to members of the Jewish faith? Questions abound for those who are unaware (or for those who might immediately know what the Jewish song is about).
There are, indeed, Jewish songs and they come with some faith and spirituality, but no special lessons through a religious organization will be required, as the Jewish songs are Carol Bayer Sager, Carole King and Carolyn Leigh … and they are all Jews. (See? Ingenious.)
With her brand new nightclub number, Deborah Zecher has created a magnificent show tribute to three different women who have left their mark (if not a changed nature) in the music industry, every Jewish woman, every songwriter, including two singers. It’s a smart concept, executed with great success – most of that success due to Deborah’s performance on stage. That doesn’t have to diminish the efforts of Zecher’s go-to director, Lennie Watts, or his revered musical director, Tracy Stark, who both made their presence felt in the seventy-minute show: It’s just that Deborah Zecher is SO doggone friendly! It would be nice to say that a person cannot be a rabbi without being sympathetic, but surely everyone has met at least one religious leader in their life who was not sympathetic. Well, whether it’s show business or a spiritual ability Deborah Zecher is sympathetic (although every minute of her day is suspected to be influenced by a spiritual ability).
Tribute shows are a difficult proposition. If an actor isn’t careful, it can end up looking like a history lesson during a class at the local college’s music department, buzzing with facts they have absolutely no connection with and for which they don’t. have no passion. So the passion dies, and so does the show. Ms Zecher went to her drawing board and created a storyline that is brimming with excitement and passion, not just for the women but for the work and legacy left behind (to be fair, Sager and King are still alive, so they haven’t left their legacy yet, even though they are impressive legacies). With a full script in hand, Deborah did her audience the favor of memorizing this script so that she could just talk to her congregation. Deborah Zecher stays connected to the crowd throughout her show, whether it’s speaking (seemingly impromptu but, clearly, from facts that are in her muscles) or singing, and it’s that connection that makes Jewish Caroling the experience she is. Oh, the music is certainly enjoyable (with Matt Scharfglass on bass and David Silliman on drums, and Stark on piano, that’s no problem), as Deborah infuses the work of the three Carols with her simple and unpretentious viola. (and some baritone GORGEOUS note that she and Stark should, additionally, be working on his skills). And the script is incredibly smart, as Zecher avoids doing a segment on Leigh, a section on Sager, and a chapter on King, choosing instead to weave the stories and music of women as an inspirational brotherhood. Using the foundation built on her script and organized score, Deborah is safe enough to take the stage and throw the script away, somehow allowing herself to ride the body through the procedures with the structure of intensive rehearsals and freedom. of trust, and this is where his connection with the audience and the material draws its strength.
There’s a lot of strength in the community too, and for this spiritual leader of the synagogue and stage, Sunday’s performance was awash with community, as the packed Don’t Tell Mama’s Brick Room was more than just one. Who’s Who cabaret was like a college reunion. Goldie Dver. Becca Kidwell. Meg Flather. Karen Mack. Lisa Viggiano. Marie Lahti. Ari Axelrod. Bob Diamond. Sidney Myer. Lennie Watts. These are just a few of the recognizable faces of the cabaret and concert industry that could be seen around the hall, grinning the smiles of the fed and crying the tears of the affected, as Deborah made her way through the hall. through important but playful compositions like “Nobody Is It Better” or “When in Rome” and significant works of art like “The Prayer”, which Zecher and Stark brilliantly infused with spiritual but not religious music in a moment that left almost everyone in attendance sobbing (including a well-documented atheist devotee, who wept until Stark joined in the harmony). It was more than an impressive cabaret performance, it was an important performance, and I hope that future Zecher shows will be imbued with the same energy, assisted by an audience of cabaret singers so comfortable with it. Zecher and his goodwill that they didn’t hesitate to join in as backup harmonies, doo-wops and backing choirs during the climax of the evening, a raucous and rewarding mix of every song from the Tapestry album, possibly the best album ever recorded in the history of music. Usually a cabaret production in which the audience is singing can be an unwelcome distraction, but with Deborah Zecher in the pulpit and people like Mack & Viggiano and Flather & Kidwell in the benches, these harmonies and backing vocals have been made into heaven. choral.
And Deborah Zecher deserves one because she, like her new show, is divine.
Jewish Caroling has a show on December 8 at 7 p.m. For more information and tickets visit the Don’t Tell Mama website HERE.
HERE is Deborah Zecher’s website.
Deborah Zecher gets a five out of five microphone rating for performing her entire show without the use of a lyrics sheet, tablet, or music stand.
Photos by Stephen Mosher