BY MARILYN LESTER**** Like Dolly Levi, the world of live performance welcomes Ann Kittredge back where she belongs. The singer-actress has returned (after taking time off to raise children), making her cabaret debut with It’s About Time, with pianist/musical director Wendy Bobbitt Cavett, and, rounding out a trio of power women, talented bass player Mary Ann McSweeney. (The two musicians are veterans of Broadway show orchestras.) As a child of theater herself, Kittredge’s It’s About Time (a wonderful double meaning in that title) reflects those roots with a narrative and songs constituting a mini-theatrical. The show is an engaging personal history, filled with a rainbow of emotional expression. The opening number, “Something Tells Me” (Timothy Gray/ Hugh Martin) is an appropriately optimistic number portending wonderful things to come. The set list spans the musical theater repertoire from “Never Again” (Alan Menken/ Tim Rice, from the 1997 Broadway concert she was part of) to the au courant “Burn” (Lin-Manuel Miranda, from Hamilton). The eclectic set list also included “You Go to My Head” (J. Fred Coots/Haven Gillespie, 1938) and “I Just Wanted You to Know” (Steven Lutvak, 2002).
Kittredge is expressive and enthusiastic, falling into that category of performing artists with a “Broadway voice.” She acts out her songs dramatically, many with the passion of deep feeling, such as a counter-intuitive, and very successful version of “Before the Parade Passes By” sung as a soft reflection. Also displaying sensitivity to the interpretation of lyrics were “Stop, Time” (Richard Maltby/David Shire) and “Come Down From the Tree” (Stephen Flaherty/Lynn Ahrens, cut from Once on This Island). Her vocalizations range from straightforward delivery in lower keys to operatic heights, with intelligent belt where required. It’s a flexible voice, made for the interpretation of the musical theater genre. These assets were especially embodied in her unplugged “Chanson” (Stephen Schwartz, The Baker’s Wife). There was also humor: “Everybody Wants to Do a Musical” (Charles Strouse/Richard Maltby, Jr.). One of the delights of It’s About Time is the choice of lesser-known but very worthy pieces, such as “After All” (Kim Oler/ Tom Toce), “I Got a Name” (Charles Fox/ Norman Gimbel) and an unrecorded Billie Holiday song, “Please Don’t Do It in Here” (composed with Buster Harding). By the closing “Unexpected Song” (Andrew Lloyd Webber/ Don Black) and “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” (Robert Lamm) it was apparent that the combination of a pleasing upbeat personality, well-curated songs and an absorbing narrative added up to success for Kittredge’s return to the stage ….and It’s About Time.
It’s About Time, seen closing night, April 1, 2017, at the Metropolitan Room, NYC. Note: this performance benefited the SYTA Youth Foundation, www.svta.org
Artist website: www.annkittredge.com