Marnie Klar

May 19, 2013 | By | Add a Comment

“Accidental Happiness”

Don’t Tell Mama – April 13, 26, May 8, 21, July 16, 24

Marnie KlarMarnie Klar’s new show, “Accidental Happiness,” is all about struggling with the hurdles that life throws in our path, and overcoming them. With the exception of her personal account of one such challenge and how she dealt with it, the theme is not stated explicitly. Rather, it’s communicated through the musical programming and Klar’s interpretations, and on both counts the evening is an artistically commanding and emotionally potent triumph.

Directed by Tanya Moberly, the show follows a smart and purposeful structure. It opens with a pairing that establishes a placid and optimistic state of affairs: Phil Vassar’s “I’m Alright” and “We Are Young” (Jack Antonoff, Andrew Dost, Jeffrey Bhasker, Nathaniel Ruess)—the first a sweet song of contentment, with only a hint of resignation, the second a benevolent expression of hope and possibilities. From the outset, we are impressed by Klar’s ringing mezzo, the superb, multi-colored arrangements by musical director Jeff Cubeta, the rich instrumental accompaniment from Cubeta on piano, Matt Scharfglass on bass, and Greg Ritchie on drums, and the backup vocals by Cubeta and Erin Cronican.

But this blissful state ends with Klar’s emotionally connected delivery of Lennon and McCartney’s “Yesterday.” A terrific rendition of the Nina Simone pairing of “Ain’t Got No” and “I Got Life” (Gerome Ragni, James Rado, Galt MacDermot) builds marvelously from the dramatic to the joyous and ends in searing passion—the theme of the evening in microcosm. A mash-up of a half-dozen songs from a diversity of sources (including Tori Amos, Radiohead, Beth Orton, and Lennon & McCartney) takes us on a penetrating journey from being daunted by life’s problems to becoming the master of one’s fate. The arrangement (both lyrically and musically) and the dramatic clarity of Klar’s interpretation give cohesiveness to what could easily have been a mess-up instead of a mash-up; the impact is powerful.

A few other selections then explore the theme, after which, with Alecia Moore and Billy Mann’s “Glitter in the Air,” Klar invites us all not only to overcome difficulties, but more fundamentally, to embrace and celebrate life; in the context of the show, the song is especially touching. In her interpretation, Sting’s “Every Breath You Take” starts as a song of warmth and support, then becomes an expression of the singer’s way of dealing with loss. Though this approach may come close to justifying inclusion of the song, this selection strikes me as a less-than-ideal choice for the evening’s encore. That is my only reservation, and it’s clearly a minor one. Throughout the proceedings, Klar performs with fervent commitment, and her smile seems to embrace not only the entire room, but the whole universe. Everyone associated with the show should be beaming with pride.

Category: Reviews

About the Author ()

Roy Sander has been covering cabaret and theatre for thirty years. He’s written cabaret and theatre reviews, features, and commentary for seven print publications, most notably Back Stage, and for CitySearch on the Internet. He covered cabaret monthly on “New York Theatre Review” on PBS TV, and cabaret and theatre weekly on WLIM-FM radio. He was twice a guest instructor at the London School of Musical Theatre. A critic for BistroAwards.com, he is also the site’s Reviews Editor; in addition, he is Chairman of the Advisory Board of MAC.

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