It’s a fun thing to do your very first club number. You’re a little scared and a little excited, you’re a little nervous and a little thrilled, and you’re so ready to go out and do it, and you think you might pass out or something really outrageous in front of you even coming up. on the scene. And then they call your name and you’re there, standing in the light, listening to the welcoming applause … and you have to do it. Sometimes that doesn’t happen, and you find yourself, later, sitting in the stillness of your own space, replaying every moment in order to understand why it didn’t happen. And sometimes it happens in such a big way that you almost can’t believe it, and you want to cry, and you can’t wait to do it again, and you never want to do it again. So you just sit back, in the stillness of your own space, and think about how wonderful that was.
Last Friday night, Linda Kahn made her solo debut at The Triad. Hopefully a week later she’s sitting in the stillness of her own space, thinking about what a special night it was and planning when she does it again.
It is very rare for a cabaret performer to leave the grid like an old pro. Most of the time, someone who makes their solo debut does what is lovingly and respectfully called a “promising” first outing or something like that praising their efforts and encouraging them to improve on them. In fact, Ms. Kahn walked out the door like an old pro. It doesn’t negate a mistake here or there, maybe a missed signal or maybe getting lost in the script – it happens to even the most seasoned performer and is to be expected from a novice. During SAY YES! those one or two moments when Kahn was so engrossed in her emotions that storytelling needed a brief pause were times when her audience fell more madly in love with her. Humanity will win every time.
Throughout her hour-long show, Linda Kahn displayed a richness of that humanity, from her warm, inviting but not overly trained singing voice to the exuberant joy with which she presented every moment – even the dramatic stories in which Linda actively succeeded. at breaking your heart were supported by the palpable exhilaration of a storyteller at their craft. It didn’t matter whether Mrs. Kahn just had fun with the amazing bassist Jay Leonhart, grew fond of being a mother, or shared oral stories from her life: every moment in Say Yes! was human. It all started with Linda Kahn’s unquenchable desire to connect with others. From the elevated stage of The Triad and the considerable distance between the projector and the front row, Kahn made it her mission to sing for her guests, to talk to her customers, to look into every eye she could, so to ensure that the human-to-human bond is strong. This propensity is one of the two biggest keys to the success of a cabaret artist, and Linda has mastered it.
The other key is absolute honesty. This Linda Kahn also mastered.
Under the watchful and attentive gaze of director Jeff Harnar and music director Christopher Denny (both up to the special occasion), Linda spent her seventy-five minutes on stage speaking the truth. There was truth in a poem written by myself that filtered through, there was truth in the stories of health complications in life, the loss of a dream, the discovery of love , creating a family, and there was truth in every musical story told. . Whether working with compositions by Maltby & Shire or Sara Bareilles, Kander & Ebb or Johnny Nash, Linda Kahn maintains a simple, straightforward way of performance that manages to stay contained within its small frame, while still managing to achieve the back of the theater, an effect perfectly captured in Carnelia’s “Just a Housewife” and McBroom’s “Wheels” – the unmistakable triumphs of the evening. The former showed Kahn in a musical storytelling light once inhabited by Nancy LaMott, and the latter evoked dreams of an entire evening, or maybe an album, of Linda Kahn playing Amanda McBroom’s cannon. It’s storytelling worth seeing and noting, from those heartfelt performances to lighter moments like a duet between Linda and Denny of a composition of her own creation called “Anywhere With You” or a character ” Miss Byrd “reminiscent of one of the musical monologues once performed in concert by Liza Minnelli. It’s quite a jump from Nancy LaMott to Liza Minnelli, but it’s a completely plausible jump. It’s not that Kahn sings like the icon or the legend, and it’s not that she mimics either lady’s performance style – it’s a quality Linda possesses as as a storyteller who allows her to live in rooms formerly inhabited by these girls.
Anyone who has seen Nancy LaMott perform can speak to the purity of the singer’s connection to the song. LaMott lived in the service of the story being told, and everything else became a factor that could go away, letting what was important fall into place. That same quality filled every nook and cranny of The Triad during the McBroom ballad that Linda performed last Friday, and it’s a quality that will come in handy for her moving forward. Meanwhile, anyone can watch videos available online or on DVD of Minnelli doing what she does best, the musical monologue in which the characters present an audience with a three-act play. The biggest of these is “It was a good time”, but one can also search online “Sorry I Asked” or “I could’t be Happier” to get a glimpse of the art form Minnelli is the mistress. With her performance “Miss Byrd”, Linda Kahn more than satisfactorily proved to her audience that she has this same gift, successfully taking the story of the HIV-positive office worker to places never before seen, exiting effectively shadowed the original Miss Byrd, Miss Sally Mayes. These two sides of Linda Kahn are proof that, even though it took her a few years to step onto the cabaret stage, it is on the cabaret stage that she belongs.
It would be nice to find constructive criticism, helpful suggestions, any comment that isn’t based directly on praise for Team Kahn, but the truth is, there isn’t. With Harnar, Denny and Leonhart by her side, Linda Kahn is on her way to a nice little career in the nightclub scene, and while there were a few little bumps in the road, they were all little human bumps. , attracting him audience. Going forward, all Kahn needs to do is remember to breathe, to stay economical with his patter and to always, always, always follow his instinct to stay connected and honest, because that’s what turns a good cabaret. in a large cabaret.
Linda Kahn SAY YES! Completed his one-off show at The Triad. Find other great shows at The Triad HERE.
Follow Linda Kahn on Facebook HERE.
Photos by Stephen Mosher