Pange New York, NY
Contact: [email protected]
Players: Kati Neiheisel, vocals; Gregory Toroian, piano, music director; Skip Ward, bass; Dave Silliman, drums; directed by Lina Koutrakos
Material: In her recent show, “Yesterday…Once More,” singer Kati Neiheisel takes us on a musical journey of one of the most extraordinary sibling acts of all time, The Carpenters.” With songs like “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Rainy Days And Mondays,” and of course the song the show is named for, “Yesterday Once More,” Neiheisel brings to the fore the Carpenters' vast body of work, featuring some of the best pop songwriters of that era. Employing a chronological timeline, she supplies informative background corresponding to each selection, including some TV jingles the duo sang. The show kicks off with “Yesterday Once More,” lyrically recounting memories of listening to the radio, which Neiheisel weaves together with memories of riding in the car with her family, waiting for their favorite songs to play.
Musicianship: Capturing the purity and unadorned quality of Karen Carpenter’s voice is something that Neiheisel does with ease. Accompanied by a top-shelf trio—pianist and musical director, Gregory Toroian, along with Skip Ward on bass and Dave Silliman on drums—they take the songs to another level while preserving the integrity of the original versions.
Performance: The setting for this show was warm and intimate, and Neiheisel’s endearing quality made her a likeable presence on stage. Though the performance space is on the smaller side, Neiheisel could have used it in more varied ways (i.e. sitting for one or two numbers, or standing in a different position) to change up the visual landscape of her show.
It is common knowledge that Karen Carpenter struggled with an eating disorder that ultimately ended her life, and it is that aspect of her life that presented a golden opportunity for Neiheisel to find a parallel in her own life, a way to understand Carpenter’s pain. It proved to be the most affecting aspect of the evening.
Summary: Kudos to Kati Neiheisel for taking on such a huge task of putting all these songs together and for gathering all the factual background on the Carpenters’ life and work. It’s also a savvy way of getting your name out there, aligning yourself with a known quantity. An even deeper dive into revealing more of her own feelings could make Neiheisel’s show even more poignant.