Archikulture Digest

Songs My Mother Sang

Songs My Mother Sang

With Noel-Marie Matson

Musical Direction by Chris Leavy

Spotlight Cabaret Series

Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL</strong>

Ms. Matson can sure sell a song. I’ve never seen a bad singer in this lobby, but this woman could sell show tunes to an Eskimo. As in so many cabarets, we learn about her childhood and her amazingly supportive mom. Reminisces bring back the romantic days of compact discs and VHS exercise tapes, and I see the sad news: my own nostalgia is now sadly out of date. Matson found her inspiration in her mother’s heroes “The three B’s”: Barbara Streisand, Bette Midler and Carol Burnette. Streisand and Midler are perennial cabaret favorites, but Carol Burnett is better known for comedy than vocals. We get a sample off all three in sequence, the Streisand numbers are so bountiful Matson scrunches them all down to an extended medley beginning with “I Am the Greatest Star” and ending with “Enough is Enough.” Mom sang while vacuuming; it must have been a very quiet Hoover but the homey quality slips into her Midler selections. Those are more 1980’s movie oriented and Matson takes a bold step and presents a respectable cover of “Wind Beneath My Wings.” It’s a bit wedding-centric, but as I said Matson can sell a song. The Burnett material was the most intriguing, it ranged from “Shy” to “Happiness is a Thing Called Joe” and I’ll bet you can’t hum either of them. Burnett is full of that old school musical sound but it’s on the very edge of the Great American Songbook repertoire and underperformed. Matson punches out with a rousing “On a Clear Day” and an even more energetic encore “Everything is Coming up Roses.” It certainly was, and all thanks to dear old mom.

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