A charming cabaret celebrates Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen at Signature

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In a cold black field theater, the stage is cozily dressed with two cushioned eating chairs, a facet desk with a small drawer, and a vase with dried flowers. When you didn’t know higher, it could be the setting for an intimate, home one-act play. However the microphones, music stands, and huge piano that subsequent come into focus make it inescapably clear that tonight is concerning the music of life, simply because the songwriters would have wished. Each Sides Now: Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen at Signature Theatre is a cabaret in dedication to 2 highly effective storytellers who’ve formed the people music songbook for the reason that Sixties.

Opening with “Case of You,” the lilting, velvety vocals of Danielle Wertz pulled you right into a love spinning and complex and tender. Her pilgrimage by its many dimensions continued with charming renditions of “Wet Evening Home,” the aching “Michael from Mountains, and “All I Need,” earlier than submitting to a really sorrowful and bewitching “Each Sides Now.” Repeatedly referencing Mitchell’s concentrate on duality of mess and pleasure in life, Wertz’s folk-jazz interpretations of the Mitchell songbook had been slippery, enchanting, and reverent. The admiration and sense of kinship with Mitchell that Wertz felt had been clear in each phrase.

Danielle Wertz and Robbie Schaefer showing in ‘Each Sides Now: Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen.’

A connection she deepened for the viewers by sharing an adage from the songwriter herself: that you simply shouldn’t hear her sing the music, however as an alternative see your self within the songs; that’s when the dialog blossoms. Not too lengthy after, and maybe by magic, the following track, “Little Inexperienced,” lodged itself into my coronary heart (melancholy additionally born with the moon in most cancers), leaving me and the room transfixed.

Associate to Wertz on this charming musical journey—and with a low, rumble paying homage to that of Cohen’s embattled voice—was Robbie Schaefer.  Bringing a fluidity of tone to Cohen’s music that unlocked new sides of a number of of the best hits, together with “So Lengthy Marianne” and “Suzanne,” Schaefer honored these tales of life and relationships passed by whereas inviting the viewers to replicate on their very own Mariannes or Suzannes.

However for me it was “Lover, Lover, Lover” that almost all efficiently wove Schaefer’s charisma and earnest need for reference to Cohen’s storytelling. A poet first in life, Cohen had a fierce dedication to documenting the shades of life, and it discovered new spirit and momentum in Schaefer and his dextrous guitar enjoying.

Fantastic solo and higher but collectively, the moments when Schaefer and Wertz dueted had been actually the place the night reverberated. Notably within the haunting mixture of “Who By Hearth” by Cohen and “R’tzei” by Stephen Richards, Wertz and Schaefer met the music with mutual dedication and fantastically, hauntingly blended vocal tones. It was that honesty and vulnerability, demanded by the items, that linked the artists to the songwriters in addition to to the viewers.

The night was supported by the centered path of Signature Cabarets director Mark G. Meadows, the moody and transporting lighting design of Chris Stull, and the plush audio engineering of Ricardo A. Coleman Jr. Pure patter concerning the performers’ pasts, the songs’ histories, and the lives of Mitchell and Cohen was seamlessly woven round and thru the setlist.

Below a blanket of stars with a tender purple halo, the tripping, pining phrases of the closing quantity, “Hallelujah,” was the one becoming finish for Each Sides Now at Signature Theatre. A masterful showcase of two artists who’ve left their mark on generations, this cabaret felt referred to as to have a good time our messy, sorrowful, joy-filled world, and gave hope that we will commerce fists for palms and the drum for the fiddle as soon as extra.

Operating Time: 90 minutes with out intermission.

Each Sides Now: Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen performs by November 13, 2022, at Signature Theatre—4200 Campbell Ave, Arlington, VA. Performances are Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30 pm, Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 2:00 pm and eight:00 pm, and Sundays at 2:00 pm and seven:00 pm. Tickets are $38 and could be bought on-line. For extra info, go to SigTheatre.org.

COVID Security: Signature requires all individuals to put on a masks always whereas contained in the efficiency areas. Masks are optionally available within the foyer and different public areas of the constructing. For full particulars, go to sigtheatre.org/plan-your-visit/security/.

SEE ALSO:
Signature Theatre casts ‘Each Sides Now: Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen
(information story, September 15, 2022)

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