Saturday, June 22, 2013


There aren’t many places in Boston to see cabaret anymore. For those of us who miss Will McMillan’s “Cabaret Connection” and Centastage’s “Boston Sings Boston,” there’s reason to celebrate. The Central Square Theater is presenting “Never Far From Home: Love Songs About Leaving” (through June 30th) as part of their Cabaret Series.

Four stellar musical theater veterans (with in between patter by Lydia Diamond) inhabit a dozen and a half original songs, some by local composers. With direction by Megan Sandberg-Zakian, the consummate performers not only sing gorgeously, they emote like crazy. Brian Richard Robinson and Cheo Bourne make parting into sweet sorrow in Paulo K. Tirol’s “Memorized.” Bourne and Kami Smith ooze sexual heat in the kitchen with Deborah Henson-Conant’s saucy “Sous Chef.”

The love songs are well, lovely, like Hannah Cranton’s exquisitely touching “Leave the Moon On [ a little bit longer, please”] sung without an ounce of artifice by Jennifer Ellis. Tim Maurice’s plaintive verses in “Closer Than You Know” turn into a chilling lament, made beautifully sardonic by Smith (aided by Christina Stripling’s haunting cello).

But the songs which bring down the house are the naughty, cheeky ones, (of course) like Maurice and De’Lon Grant’s “Cast Me (expletive deleted)” or Henson-Conant’s hilarious “Complaining”: “What could be more entertaining…than sharing the joy of complaining.” Absolutely!

The band, headed by musical director/composer Maurice at the piano, with Zachary Hardy on percussion and Stripling on cello, add vibrancy and sophistication—and the perfect setting for some impressive new work. As Edna St. Vincent Millay wisely proclaimed, “Forget the epitaph. Take Up the song!”