Leslie close-up -Photo credit Shari Lipman
By Jack Lyons Theatre and Film Critic. Member of American Theatre Critics Association

I’m often asked if I would consent to reviewing Cabaret artists. I love cabaret.  The issue is not one of whether I would or would not, it’s a matter of timing.  The schedule for my newspaper outlets drive the decision.

Usually, cabaret artists perform only one performance, maybe two on a certain date. The time interval is too short for me to see the show, write the review, and send it to my editor, within his deadlines, in order to make the Wednesday Issue.  I write and review for a weekly publication.

Believe me when I say I would love to see this cabaret performer or that particular act.  The Coachella Valley is jam-packed with talented and gifted club and solo artists of all stripes:  comedy, improv, dramatic staged readings, magic acts, monologues, and of course, the singers. There can never be too much arts entertainment in the world of show business for me.

Every now and then, despite my time constraints, when the stars are aligned with Venus and the moon… it happens.  A door on my schedule opens just wide enough for me slip into a theatre seat or on a bar stool if it’s being performed in a restaurant and enjoy the talent that is available for all see. The trick is to cover the event, review the work, before the artists’ moves on to his or her next gig.

Last Saturday, July 7th,  CV REP artistic director Ron Celona invited me to see a new talent to the Valley and to watch her perform in her new One Woman Cabaret show titled “Leslie Page: A Tapestry Through Music”.  The show is creatively and sensitively directed by Mr. Celona, who becomes the wind beneath her feet as she draws her audience toward her.

She’s a wonderful technician who uses her voice as if it’s a musical instrument, complete with key changes and musical riffs on top of more riffs that are breathtaking in their execution.  I was immediately reminded of a young Sarah Vaughan.  The ‘Divine Sarah’ could hold an audience spellbound with her unique style, where she could convert her voice into an alto saxophone sound and entertain her audiences for hours with ease.

Leslie Page has been an established professional singer/performer for over ten years.  She weaves a compelling musical story of her career to the audience between song sequences.  Her range is both vocally broad in performance and in the selections she performs from the CV REP stage.  She is a big fan of R & B, sings ‘country’ like an angel, but was born in California.  Ms. Page is the possessor of a silky, smoky and sultry voice and delivery that will please audiences and fans of not only the American Song Book, but of songs written by the best of the country’s composers and songwriters.

Why haven’t I heard of you before tonight? I candidly asked her when we had a conversation following her performance, she replied saying, “I’ve been singing since I was four-years-old.  My professional work resume has taken me all over the country.  In Los Angeles and Hollywood, and NYC performed as a backup singer for TV, and Movie soundtracks for several years and recently I’ve discovered the Cruise ship circuit for entertainers that has to take me overseas for long periods of time” adding, “but I’m back on dry land  now and ready for more exciting musical adventures like tonight.”

She’s comfortable with her audience and confident in her skills to win over an audience with her talent, style, and her delivery. And she is very fortunate to have the extremely talented musical accompaniment of Music Director Nick Petrillo, who plays piano and keyboards like a virtuoso, with Dave Johnstone, on drums, and Tabari Lake, on guitar.  All three gentlemen are graduates of Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music.  They’re a very formidable trio of top musicians.

The CV REP technical staff of Lighting Designer and Technical Director Moira Wilkie Whitaker, and Doug Morris, Stage Manager make this splendid show a special evening indeed.  I look forward to seeing this talented lady perform in the Coachella Valley in the future.

Ms. Page certainly made a believer out me with her mesmerizing performance earning her richly deserved standing ovation that she and the production received from the audience.

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