If one could bottle Ann Kittredge’s exuberant opening number, an entire harvest of Champagne might be bubbled. Vocal is clarion, smile as wide as the room. Following this with a contemporary interpretation of Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” epitomizes her latest effort. Instead of pop bounce, we hear seduction.
Two days before the musical Camelot opened in 1960, “Before I Gaze at You Again” (Alan Jay Lerner/ Frederick Lowe) was slipped under Julie Andrews’ door. The vocalist’s rendition is eminently delicate. Count Kittredge among a small group who retain complete control while singing softly. Why she’s not looking into the eyes of men in the audience, however, is puzzling. Lack of connection is further underlined during the charming “You Make Me Laugh” (Shelly Markham/Tom Toce) – a perfect opportunity lost.
The show’s buoyant polka medley “because I’m half Polish” elicits head bobbing and toe tapping. Our audience spontaneously claps in time. Kittredge is able to slide notes between octaves as if slaloming. 1910’s “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life” (Victor Herbert) expertly accompanied by Sean Harkness is pristine, notably without a jot of camp.
Arranged by the masterful Alex Rybeck, a tandem, theatrical take on “Make Them Hear You”/”Keep On Standing” (Lynn Ahrens/ Stephen Flaherty) arrives serious, impassioned; as if married. Steve Ross then assumes the piano for a duet of “Edelweiss” (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II) that the two presented on her Virtual Shorts series during the thick of the pandemic. It’s just lovely.
How we get from here to “Power of One” (Mervyn Warren/ Mark Chait – a Pokemon song) I can’t fathom. (Kittredge sang the song of encouragement to her children. It’s an appealing image.) The complex, unlyrical “Unwritten” (Natasha Bedingfield/Danielle Brisebois/ Wayne Rodrigues) does little to explain. Stephen Sondheim’s “With So Little To Be Sure Of” closes the evening like a milkweed pod on a breeze.
The artist also screens a music video she created (some people just baked bread these last years). Watercolor sketches by Taylor Morgan morph before us as Kittredge sings. The song, from the trunk of Lynn Ahrens/Stephen Flaherty is “Garden.”
Caveats: There seems no rhyme or reason to selections. We need a vertebra, a reason.Sequencing often jolts instead of sliding. The artist has clearly been directed to keep her own council. She looks over and past us. All intimacy is lost.
Ann Kittredge has a gorgeous, authoritative voice. The CD is more than likely a pleasure.
Photos by Maryann Lopinto
Ann Kittredge- reIMAGINE CD Release Event
Director Barry Kleinbort
Music Director/Piano-Chris Denny
Special Guest- Steve Ross
Laurie Beechman Theatre
407 West 42nd St