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A Kurt Weill Review: Songs of Darkness and Light

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A KURT WEILL REVIEW: SONGS OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT, Theo Ubique Theatre Company, at No Exit Cafe. Director Fred Anzevino compiled this engagingly scruffy cabaret revue of songs by Kurt Weill, whose brilliant fusion of German expressionism and American jazz idioms entertained Berliners in the 20s and Broadway audiences in the 30s and 40s, after Weill fled Hitler's Europe. An ensemble of four women and one man delivers his slinky, acerbic, yet lush settings of lyrics by Bertolt Brecht (The Threepenny Opera), Ogden Nash (One Touch of Venus), Maxwell Anderson (Knickerbocker Holiday, Lost in the Stars), Langston Hughes (Street Scene), and others.

The musically strong first act is devoted to Brecht and Weill's ironic discourses on sex, militarism, and human baseness. Unfortunately it's cluttered with intrusive choreography and the singers' nonverbal asides: their smirks and mannerisms undermine the songs' wolfish leanness. The more lyrical second act fares better. David Heimann, whose macho posturing distracts from his Threepenny Opera selections, is affecting in gentle readings of "It Never Was You" and "Speak Low," a duet with soprano Reverie Mott Berger. Danielle Brothers and Joslyn Jones deliver bravura back-to-back renditions, Brothers of "Stay Well" and Jones of "Trouble Man." Best of all is the charismatic Rebecca Finnegan, whose crooked smile and husky voice recall Marlene Dietrich; her breathtaking readings of "Pirate Jenny" and "Lonely House" are the evening's highlights. Providing a solid introduction to Weill's oeuvre, this production should also satisfy the composer's fans.

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