A cross between story and song

In her ambitious one-woman musical, Barbara Lewis plays a pretentious opera director, a sharkish New York talent agent, and a 400-pound singing coach – and that’s just in the first act. She also meets a raccoon named Molly and writes a pretty catchy song about her too.

In her ambitious one-woman musical, Barbara Lewis plays a pretentious opera director, a sharkish New York talent agent, and a 400-pound singing coach – and that’s just in the first act. She also meets a raccoon named Molly and writes a pretty catchy song about her too.
Lewis started putting together Crossroads, an autobiographical cabaret that traces her life from childhood to the present, a few years ago. Her songs and stories take the audience on an existential journey from Germany to Vermont, to Manhattan and, finally, Montreal. Trained as an opera singer but uncomfortable with the business, Lewis seems to have found her ideal creative outlet with this song and dance routine.
While some of the more earnest scenes – Lewis leads the audience in a sing-along for Burma – clashed with my ironic sensibility, for the most part her sincerity and openness was difficult to resist. The most poignant moment comes when Lewis opens up about her love for her late husband Nicholas Regush, an investigative journalist who died suddenly in 2004.
Much of the story focuses on Lewis’ battle to maintain artistic and ethical integrity but still manage to make ends meet. It’s a message that generally resonates with the young, but Lewis stresses it’s never too late to act on principles.
“This is a show that really crosses the age barrier. Surprisingly, it appeals to young people as well,” said the director of the show, Anna Fuerstenberg.
Crossroads played at Club Lambi during the Fringe festival in 2006 and it was a hit with both audiences and critics. But Fuerstenberg and Lewis reworked a lot of the material for the run at the Centaur this autumn. Fuerstenberg said they changed some of the songs and added others.
“She went from a singer who can tell a good story to an actor,” said Fuerstenberg.
Fuerstenberg also said they adjusted the performance to take advantage of the roomier Centaur stage. The adjustments were mostly successful, as Lewis held the attention of the audience for the duration of the show.
Crossroads plays at Centaur until Nov. 11. Tickets are $18 for students ($22 for adults). Tuesdays to Saturdays 8:30 P.M., Sunday 2:30 P.M. Centaur Theatre 453 St. Fran

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