This review of Carol Shedlin's Child Of The '30s at Don't Tell Mama was written by Andrew Martin and published in Volume X, Issue 5 (2015) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!
Child Of The '30s - Carol Shedlin
Don't Tell Mama (343 West 46th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 3/16/15 at 7:00 p.m.
The longer one lingers in the cabaret arena, the more they become aware that there are three types of acts. The first is a brilliantly talented performer who does a brilliantly conceived show. These, of course, are the easiest to review. The second is a brilliantly talented performer who does a poorly conceived show. These aren't completely impossible to review by dint of constructive criticism. And the third is a poorly talented performer who does a brilliantly conceived show. It often leaves the writer at a loss for words. So it goes with Carol Shedlin in her show Child Of The '30s at Don't Tell Mama, who regrettably falls into that category. Granted, there is a fourth type, a poorly talented performer who does a poorly conceived show, which are easily reviewed by merely brushing them off with an utter pan, but Shedlin manages to escape that fate, squeaking by with a grade of D-minus rather than an F.
Although aided and abetted by musical director Jon Delfin at the ivories and the masterful Boots Maleson on bass, Shedlin offers very little by way of musical or lyrical communication. Her high points here are achieved in her storytelling, of having been a rich kid whose family fortune was all but wiped out in the Great Depression and a set of parents who refused to continue to do anything but live high on the hog, and her song selections (all from the 1930s) have been impeccably researched. But she simply doesn't have the chops to pull it off; her voice is an extremely weak vocal instrument which, though displaying reasonably beautiful pitch, doesn't possess the requisite power to allow her to emerge as a satisfactory artist. In point of fact, her audience offers little more than sympathetic applause, and even that appears at times a strenuous effort. She deserves props for working her hardest to make this an interesting evening, but to say it falls short is an understatement.
Ergo, when next Carol Shedlin makes a cabaret appearance, she might be worth considering to attend if the pickings of the evening are very slim. But it can't be said that she doesn't try.