On Tuesday, October 4th at 8:00 PM, Kathleen France brought her one-woman-tour de force extravaganza, “La Bella Vita” to the Iridium. With an eight-piece band to warm up the crowd, then appearing on stage in a skin tight, sparkling evening dress, sporting a smile as gorgeous and infectiously heart warming as her voice, France entranced the audience from the first bar of Bob Merrill’s Mambo Italiano to her to her twenty-fourth selection, Buona Sera by Louis Prima.
The program,comprised of popular songs made famous by Italian/Italian American singers and/ or with Italian themes, was expertly crafted by Emmy Award nominee and MAC Award winner France and her director Tanya Moberly. I overheard a nearby table of people say that the sole purpose of the show was to create an audition film for employment on cruise ships. If that is indeed the case, I can report definitively that France’s mission is more than accomplished, and here’s why:
France brilliantly weaves personal anecdotes into a tight, universally appealing show, making it authentic to her and personal to anyone who loves this genre of music. And face it, everybody loves this genre of music. The evening was a recipe for success, as the audience celebrated the hit songs, laughed at France’s stories and marveled at her vocal versatility. Highlights of the show included Bobby Darin’s arrangement of Dream Lover paired with Connie Francis’ arrangement of You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me. France’s rich alto would soar into an off-the-staff belt with ease. Further, as she shifted into The Prayer (David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager, Alberto Testa and Tony Renis), her legit soprano stayed steady and even as she delivered the lyric in flawless Italian. One part pin-up girl, one part Lucille Ball goofy chick and all parts powerhouse vocalist, Kathleen France makes entertaining look easy.
So, how does an Irish Girl from Fort Collins, Colorado end up presenting an ambitious, Italian- themed program of hit songs at a posh Manhattan Club, backed up by an eight piece band? She does it by hiring Ian Herman as her Director of Music, and the stellar instrumentalists Sean Harkness (Guitar), Tom Hubbard (Bass), Dave Silliman (Drums), Jon Menges (Trumpet), Mark Miller (Trombone), Jeff Schiller (Alto Sax, Flute 1) and Jeff Nichols (tenor Sax, Flute2 Clarinet). Then she chooses MAC Award winner Tanya Moberly to direct and guide her through the complex and elegant musical choices. Finally, she puts every bit of her divine intelligence , talent and, yes, adorable persona into the act.
If “La Bella Vita” travels to the open water, well, cruise ship audiences all over the globe will be entertained and moved by Kathleen France’s singing prowess and generous spirit. For the rest of us on land, we hope she brings it back again and again. ~ Brooke Drayton (Oct 2016)
Saturday, October 31, 2009; Posted: 10:10 AM – by Jenna Esposito
Happy Halloween! It’s been another frightfully good week filled of entertainment, starting with the delightful Kathleen France, who I saw Sunday evening at the Metropolitan Room. Blessed with a big, bold, warm voice, I’d heard Kathleen perform at a number of open mics, and was thrilled to be able to catch her debut solo cabaret show, Book of Love. Backed by a fantastic band (musical director Tracy Stark on piano, Jamie Fox on guitar, Skip Ward on bass and David Silliman on drums) and two terrific backup singers (Wendy Anne Russell and Joshua Judge), Ms. France wove her way through a great selection of music, ranging from musical theater to country, to blues, to rock. Her powerful voice sounds great on everything, but my favorite song of the night was Dolly Parton’s “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right.” She and the band just nailed the country tune, and if I closed my eyes for a minute, I could forget that I was in a little cabaret room and imagine I was at the concert of a country star! Ms. France has an engaging personality and a fantastic sense of humor, which just radiate from the stage, and as she explored the ups and downs of the “book of love,” she had the audience in the palm of her hand. Kudos to Kathleen on a great cabaret debut, and also to director Lina Koutrakos.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2009
Raissa Recommends – week of 10/26/09
I’m not sure if I ended a great week, or began it, with the debut of Kathleen France’s show, THE BOOK OF LOVE, last night. All I know, is that she is a gem, and reminded me, once again, of why we perform – because it is a gift to the audience and she gave and gave and entertained the heck out of us. Moving, funny, well-paced and directed by Lina Koutrakos and MD’d by Tracy Stark – this is a collaboration made in heaven. And is there ANYTHING Kathleen can’t sing? I think not! Let’s make her run this show over and over again.