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Cabaret Review (LA): Until Now with Callie Carson at Sterling’s

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Callie Carson made a stupendous concert debut at Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello’s on October 17th. Although this was her concert debut she had a strong stage presence and a real sense of who she was. She told the audience about her life on the farm in North Dakota and her up-and-down love life with Chad, her high school sweetie and one-time fiancée. While I am not a fan of biographical patter (unless you are an accomplished singer who has been around and has a truly interesting story to tell), Ms. Carson delivered the way-too-long story with wit, charm and genuine warmth.

She showed remarkable sense in her song selections, which thankfully weren’t just a recitation of her audition or performance pieces. Richard Hochberg has helped her develop a rather good show. The talented Michael Paternostro was her inspired accompanist and, in fact, contributed several songs to the act, which I will mention later.

Musical highlights included “To Sir With Love,” “Just Not Now” from the musical I Love You Because, “Hello in There” (a Bette Midler song which Carson sang to a 90-year-old friend in the audience), and a sexy rendition of “Peel Me A Grape” (the Dusty Springfield version). Towards the end of her act she beguiled us with samples of a new musical called Scary Musical by Paternostro and Hochberg. This was followed by an Eartha Kitt standard, “I want to be Evil.”Then she sang a lovely Scott Alan song, “Say Goodbye,” followed by a religiously inspired “We Live on Borrowed Time” by David Friedman. Her final song was Bobby Auron’s “Until Now” which was also the title of her act.

Callie Carson is a beautiful woman who already has a flourishing modeling career. She showed some very good acting ability along the way but most of all she has a gorgeous voice. She gets a little pinched on the high notes and sometimes feels compelled to do the American Idol wail like almost every young singer I have seen. But when she is in her comfort zone she is a very attractive and emotionally convincing performer.

Ms. Carson is a devout Christian and an avowed chaste-until-marriage advocate. She seems very comfortable with her choices but I did wonder how her act will change as her own life advances. She is a real find for the musical comedy world of Southern California and, in fact, is scheduled to appear in a musicalization of Happy Days at Cabrillo Music Theatre in Thousand Oaks on Friday Oct. 21. Meanwhile, Callie Carson gave us an enchanting evening of entertainment at Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello’s on Oct. 17.

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