drama of Kurt Weill's songbook reaches from Broadway to Berlin,
recreating the mid-20th century ambiance of turbulent romance,
poverty and war. In her show, Bilbao Moon (Songs of Kurt Weill),
Anne Kerry Ford, a dedicated interpreter of the German composer's
work, presents dramatic creations as furious and fiery as "Surabaya
Johnny" (Weill/ Brecht) and as jaunty as "One Life
to Live" (Weill/Ira Gershwin). As an extra perk, she brings
in tenor Brian Lane Green for "Tango Ballad" (Blitzstein/Brecht).
Ford does not categorize Weill's music into the usual two sectionsthe
German and the American. Her emphasis is on the songs' universality.
Although a cabaret space cannot help but lend it a workshop
rather than concert hall quality, Ford's soprano voice has a
warmth and a secure range that matches the colors of her acting
ability and enthusiasm for the project. Make it work, and she
does. Her study
and her interest in Weill is evident from the first song, an
audacious "I'm a Stranger Here Myself." (Ogden Nash
lyrics). Playing with a minimum of props, she includes the impressionistic
moods of Weill's short but turbulent life, reaching a peak of
power with "Pirate Jenny" (Brecht lyrics/Blitzstein
tanslation), vivid and explosive.
One of the few ballads is a lovely rendition of "My Ship,"
Ira Gershwin's sentimental lyrics playing against the mystery
and romance of Weill's haunting melody. More to the heart was
her delivery of "It Never Was You" with Maxwell Anderson's
lyrics, a romantic song with a jaded cosmopolitan soul from
Knickerbocker Holiday. She is less successful tackling the racing
tongue twisters of Gershwin's "Tchaikovsky."
Considering the breadth and theatricality of Kurt Weill's music,
Anne Kerry Ford, with John Boswell's confident piano support,
delivers it to a cabaret stage with confidence, sophistication
October 16, 2009