The 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 sections—the 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 and depth.

Elizabeth Ahlfors
Cabaret Scenes
October 16, 2009



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