Cabaret Review: CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ – JESSICA VOSK (Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa)

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by Michael M. Landman-Karny on January 27, 2024

in Concerts / Events,Theater-International,Theater-Los Angeles


In the shimmering galaxy of cabaret, few stars under the twilight of retirement sparkle with the vivacity and brilliance of Jessica Vosk, who, at 40, is the real deal. Her latest foray onto the stage, California Dreamin: Jessica Vosk Sings the Songwriters of Laurel Canyon, which played last night at Segerstrom Concert Hall, was not merely a concert but a rich tapestry interweaving the golden threads of song and narrative. This enchanting journey, an homage to the illustrious songwriters of Laurel Canyon from the 60s and 70s, echoed the resplendent epoch of cabaret while embracing a contemporary flair.

Vosk, renowned for her role as Elphaba in Wicked, channeled a deeply personal connection in her performance, a legacy inherited from her parents’ reverence for these Laurel Canyon maestros. The show, originally conceived for New York’s esteemed 92nd Street Y, was a symphony of storytelling harmonized with music, capturing the era’s spirit of camaraderie and creative synergy. Her repertoire spanned an illustrious array, from Joni Mitchell to Stevie Nicks, each song a testament to why, in Vosk’s words, this music is part of the Great American Songbook.

Onstage, Vosk was a commanding figure, transforming the space into a sanctum where each melody unfurled like a chapter from an intimate memoir. Her voice, an instrument of rich timbre and emotive depth, traversed this eclectic spectrum with a masterful fusion of strength and tenderness.

The narrative arc of the show was a tapestry expertly woven. Vosk’s anecdotes, ranging from whimsically humorous to touchingly introspective, bridged the songs, guiding the audience through a kaleidoscope of emotional landscapes. Her interpretation of Stevie Nicks’ “Gypsy” stood out as a microcosm of her talent, blending reverence for the song’s heritage (originally written in the 70s but released in the 80s) with a bold, contemporary twist.

The arrangements by Mary Mitchell-Campbell, meticulously tailored to Vosk’s dynamic vocal range, oscillated between lush and minimalistic, allowing her voice to shine as the centerpiece. Accompanied by Musical Director Matt Perri and a group of stellar LA-based musicians, including two fantastic backup singers, the ensemble created an auditory feast.

The evening’s guest, transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, delivered a poignant rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” adding another layer of depth to the evening. Vosk’s own interpretations of Mitchell’s “California” and “A Case of You” were spirited and engaging.

In terms of production, the show embraced elegant simplicity. The absence of grandiose effects foregrounded the music and storytelling. The lighting design, subtle yet purposeful, complemented each piece, enhancing the sensory journey.

Jessica Vosk’s California Dreamin’ was more than a show; it was a triumphant celebration of song and story, an odyssey through the emotional spectrum. For those who seek an evening of enchanting music, heartfelt narratives, and a connection that transcended the ordinary, Vosk’s performance is a radiant beacon in the cabaret firmament.

Jessica Vosk’s California Dreamin’
reviewed at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, January 26, 2024
for future events at Segerstrom, visit SCFTA
for more info, visit Jessica Vosk

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