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Ellen W. Lytle

Trinity of Sorts


''Katrina: Voices of the Lost''
The Flea Theater, 41 White Street, Tribeca
Reviewed by Ellen ‘windy' Lytle April 29, 2007.

A few days ago composer Michael Sahl and librettist / poet Margaret Yard enjoyed a one- night- stand of their joint effort, ''Katrina: Voices of the Lost'' at The Flea Theater, 41 White Street, in Tribeca. The musical composition played by a ten piece orchestra with strains of discordant, a few disconnected, and many long threads of excitingly melodic brass and strings along with a very cool percussionist, was gorgeously conducted by the delicate force of Mary Rowell. This first act, without lyrics, set the theme nicely of what was to come. While the second act was sung by four actor/singers whose voices; alto, tenor, baritone and soprano, blended together so well, that the overall sound was like a stream of rich syrup. Yet individually they could each belt out the bluesy, even gospel-esque sounds, which along with the dire emergence of this lyrical flood, brought us instantly back to last year in New Orleans.

A really catchy tune, aptly called, ''Mr. Rain, Mr. rain won't you please go away,'' led to the pathos of, ''Let me die in your arms, there's nothing left to do…'' and ''I'll get a boat somewhere, somewhere, and I'll catch it, and I'll catch it and save you…'' But somehow just the simple gestures from these four on stage singing their hearts out with lines like, ''there goes grandma's rockin' chair, oh why do you send us back to the sea?'' and ''my soul disintegrates in shades of painful remembrance'' brought my own flood of tears and though there wasn't a prop in sight, you were there, in that horrible hurricane almost two years ago, knee deep in muddy water.

The entire operetta took less than one and half hours so one line I heard was short of this verse from Yard's libretto, which reads; ''Love- breath of life, my incredible love- Let the ocean come wash us away- Let me die in your arms loving you- There is nothing left to do!'' In the end, however, a tiny polemic sprouted, ''…this from a country so worried about saluting its flag!''

Two items long gone but worth mentioning took place last month in early, early spring but had the force to stay with me long afterwards. Ellen Stewart's 45th anniversary at La MaMa party, which consisted of 45 poets reading for two minutes each surrounded by an incomporable spread of marvelous food and congeniality thanks to William ‘Electric' Black who with wit, charm and oh so much poise curated and emceed the entire evening. Also thanks to his helpers one of which was Ilka Scobie. But it was the poets who did such an amazing job of well crafted, wondrous work in a breathless amount of time. I can't remember when I was so impressed with so many at one benefit; never.

Another memorable event was Susan Hoover's poetry reading with cellist, Sera Smolen. The two matched each other's spirit famously and Hoover's charm and wit and majestic stage presence was such a hit that the audience wanted more and more, even after a good hour. She returns to Cornelia Street Café from her home in Woodstock at regular intervals and wouldn't it be loverrrrly if Sera joins her.


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