Author Archive: Penelope Thomas

From Canada, Penelope Thomas came to NY to study dance with Merce Cunningham; then through a series of fortunate and unfortunate events, she wound up back in singing and acting. Credits include lead vocals with FauveMuseum on two albums and live at Symphony Space, singing back-up for Bistro Awards director Shellen Lubin at the Metropolitan Room, reading poet Ann Carson’s work at the Whitney, and touring North America and Europe with Mikel Rouse’s The End of Cinematics. In Toronto, she studied piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music and cello with the Claude Watson School for the Arts, and in New York she studied music theory with Mark Wade. She's taught in the New School’s Sweat musical theatre intensive and taught dance in public schools and conservatories.

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Gunhild Carling

Gunhild Carling

August 23, 2019 | By | Add a Comment

Swedish multi-instrumentalist and singer Gunhild Carling works fast, as though she were chasing the tail of some devilish swing-beast and excited as a scrappy kid to catch it. Her joy and attack on stage are absolutely infectious, and her recent set at Birdland Theater was a wild ride. The thread through the evening was a […]

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Dawn Derow

Dawn Derow

August 6, 2019 | By | Add a Comment

In her most recent offering, award-winning vocalist Dawn Derow displayed plenty of onstage charisma and a solid legit soprano. The show, The House That Built Me, was based on her family history during her early and adolescent years. As presented, Derow’s childhood with hardworking parents was a fortunate one. Stories of growing up valuing family […]

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Marissa Mulder

Marissa Mulder

June 9, 2019 | By | Add a Comment

The opening night of Marissa Mulder’s I’ll Follow the Sun: The John Lennon and Paul McCartney Songbooks at Feinstein’s/54 Below provided a much-needed infusion of brightness in a week full of rain. It’s unusual that sweetness would be such a compelling and interesting quality in a singer, but Mulder knew exactly what to do with […]

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Gabrielle Stravelli

Gabrielle Stravelli

April 21, 2019 | By | Add a Comment

The Birdland release concert for Gabrielle Stravelli’s fourth album, Pick Up My Pieces: Gabrielle Stravelli Sings Willie Nelson, was packed. 6:00 PM is basically a matinee in the jazz world, and not a time you would expect to see buzzing crowds spilling out onto midtown sidewalks. The show more than delivered. Stravelli truly landed on the […]

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The Drinkwater Brothers

The Drinkwater Brothers

March 5, 2019 | By | Add a Comment

John and Matthew Drinkwater are twins—singing, football-playing twins, in their senior years at Wagner College. As I sat down to watch their recent show at Don’t Tell Mama, I must admit I had a little trepidation that—with their being young, playing to a home crowd, and probably not thus-far knocked around by show business—I’d be […]

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Deb Berman

Deb Berman

December 10, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

In her recent show at Pangea, Deb Berman took what could have been straight-ahead cabaret fare—American Songbook standards and personal stories—and made every moment land with authenticity and finesse. Opening with “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” (Duke Ellington, Irving Mills) and closing with “Things Are Swinging’” (Jack Marshall, Peggy […]

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Jazz Bastards

Jazz Bastards

November 12, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

The Jazz Bastards are a hot mess. Or so they’d like you to think. If they’re anyone’s illegitimate children, it’s not just jazz’s—Les Paul is one possible father figure, as are any of the deadpan comedians from Buster Keaton on down to John Belushi, and perhaps Elvis Costello and Tom Waits are great-uncles. Their two […]

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Black Light

Black Light

November 4, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

What if, at the crossroads of your life—where you have to make decisions that will save you or damn you forever—you were not alone? What if a high priestess met you there, tall and sparkling, wise and smiling, reaching out her hand to guide your poor, fumbling human heart and teach you that you were […]

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Raquel Cion

Raquel Cion

October 26, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

Raquel Cion’s show at Pangea is entitled Me & Mr. Jones: My Intimate Relationship with David Bowie. Like Bowie, Cion is a shapeshifter. With layered costumes by David Quinn, she peels back the story of her childhood, teenage years, and adult relationships with the icon in his many incarnations. With her low, textured voice, the music […]

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John Kelly

John Kelly

September 27, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

John Kelly’s current version of Joni Mitchell, on view at Joe’s Pub, is stripped-down—not officially drag, yet still bearing traces of his earlier incarnations of the character, which featured a wig and costume. This Joni is John in simple clothes, on guitar, supported by pianist and music director Zecca Esquibel. Listening to him, I was […]

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