Pangea New York
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Players: Leslee Warren, vocals; Gregory Toroian, piano, musical director; Skip Ward, bass; Dave Silliman, drums
Material: In her recent show, “Me Myself & Eye: Songs of a Nearsighted Girl,” Leslee Warren takes us on a personal journey as she emerges from a severely nearsighted person to one who eventually has her vision corrected. Her story starts as a small child whose family discovers she isn’t seeing what others see. As she navigates life with her handicap, Warren recounts her experiences by weaving together songs that pair with each anecdote. Following a chronological timeline, she takes us from the early years of impaired vision to the time when, finally, surgery repairs it. With songs referencing themes that mesh with her struggle, the repertoire includes “The Way You Look Tonight” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “In Your Eyes,” and “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” to name a few.
Musicianship: With a sizable vocal range, Warren’s voice is well-suited to the stage. Alternating from a Broadway belt to an R&B sound offers a vast number of song choices that also thematically tie into her narrative. Backed by a stellar trio, with pianist and musical director Gregory Toroian at the helm, attention is paid to every nuance, instrumentally and vocally. The trio, a fixture on the New York City cabaret circuit, provide great backing support, never intruding on Warren’s vocals.
Performance: The show had numerous lighthearted moments, from inflating a balloon to demonstrate the normal eye versus the extremely nearsighted one, to recounting a school dance where a boy she spotted across the room turned out to be a potted plant. While it’s admirable that Warren can look back with humor at what must have been frustrating or painful at times, letting us in more about those feelings would have created an even more powerful experience, since most of us are hindered by something physical or emotional.
Summary: Leslee Warren is an engaging presence who delivers a well thought out performance. She understands that music is also about entertainment and connecting with an audience. While humor is certainly an effective way to achieve that, sharing more of the pain and/or disappointment surrounding her obstacles would further round out the show.
Photo by: Mark Shiwolish