David Meulemans: Welcome To My World

David MeulemansAn evening of new work by singer-songwriter David Kent, sung by Miami-based artist David Meulemans. A great collection of original songs, ideal for a cabaret setting, beautifully sung.

David Meulemans

David Meulemans

“Kent’s songs..a gift for the cabaret performer..Meulemans’ excellent diction and control of different vocal qualities served the songs well”

Reviewing this cabaret has been an interesting and unusual opportunity to comment on an entire evening of new original songs from a singer songwriter, as yet, relatively new to the cabaret scene. David Meulemans, fresh from Miami in his London debut, sings his British friend David Kent’s songs in the wholly appropriate setting of The Pheasantry.

The set opens to the lively title song ‘Welcome to MY World’ and Meulemans begins to tell us how the evening came about. He has a rich melodious voice and the audience, though small, were welcoming.

The two had met at the renowned Cabaret Conference at Yale and Meulemans was struck by the quality of Kent’s material. This show is the fruit of their collaboration. Meulemans went on to sensitively and subltly implore the audience to take him ‘Just As I Am’.

As the evening progressed, we were treated to an eclectic mix of material in terms of subect-matter, style and mood, and Meulemans’ excellent diction and control of different vocal qualities served the songs well. They were also greatly supported by the superb arrangements and piano accompaniment of Colin Billing.

There were many intriguing items on this programme, but songs that particularly stood out were the patter song ‘Delicia the Stripper’, which provided a nice contrast to a programme consisting of several ballads, the poetic ‘Extraordinary’, and ‘I Still Believe’, which has a pleasing emotional build.

It is not easy to play to a small audience who know nothing of you nor of the material you are singing, but Meulemans was able to win them over and the reserved attendees gradually relaxed. By the end of the show, one could feel their genuine appreciation.

Structurally, the programme would have benefitted from the addition of a few more up-tempo numbers, and those that were sung were well received. Also, the patter needed to be a little more concise and crafted. Nonetheless, we did get a good insight into both the performer and person Meulemans is, which is an essential element of good cabaret.

Kent’s songs are great for an artist to get his teeth into, well structured and with lyrics that allow the singer to interpret in his own way.  The narrative and dramatic items work well, and his ballads work on a number of levels, making them a gift for the cabaret performer.

A great evening of original work, beautifully sung.

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About Fiona Jane Weston

I am Fiona-Jane Weston and as well as being a performer myself (see website), I write reviews of and features on shows, mainly on the London cabaret and theatre scene. I have worked in theatre for many years, but decided to embark on a new direction in cabaret in 2009, when I produced 20th Century Woman: The Compact Cabaret. Not wanting to neglect my love of spoken word, particularly drama and verse, I made the conscious decision to include these elements in the programme, as well as wonderful songs, to tell the story of women's changing status and preoccupations throughout the 20th Century and up to now. I was invited to audition for the renowned Cabaret Conference at Yale, run by the late legendary Erv Raible, and that was thrilled to be one of only 26 accepted that year, where I was taught by the masters of the genre. Amanda McBroom (composer of the Bette Middler hit "The Rose" and the poignant "Errol Flynn"), Laurel Massé, original member of Manhattan Transfer, Sally Mayes, Tony Award nominees Sharon McNight and Tovah Feldshuh, and New York cabaret veteran Julie Wilson were all on the faculty. We were also treated to the musical direction of Alex Rybeck, Hubert Tex Arnold and the now late Paul Trueblood. With the benefit of their insightful teaching and great encouragement, I took my show to The Duplex in New York, where I was delighted with the response. Since then, I have produced Loving London: The Capital Cabaret, using the same format of songs, poetry and drama, in various London venues, including Leicester Square Theatre and The Crazy Coqs. 2014, the centenary of World War 1, saw the launch of Wartime Women: the Khaki Cabaret to a sellout house at St. James Theatre, London, garnering great notices, including from The Times and Musical Theatre Review. I have since been touring the show to Belgium and throughout the UK. I hope these reviews and interviews entertain and educate at the same time, and if please do leave comments in the box. It's great to engage in a conversation about the Arts. Fiona-Jane Weston
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