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Emily C. Johnson Photo courtesy of Emily C. Johnson

Emily C. Johnson
Photo courtesy of Emily C. Johnson

Here’s a brief note about a musical cabaret show I attended last Saturday at The Chapel arts venue. “The New Girl In Town” was local performer Emily C. Johnson’s ode to her experiences as a small town Missouri native transitioning to city life in St. Louis.  Featuring Johnson and a host of other up-and-coming performers, it proved to be an entertaining evening of song, dance and comedy.

The personable Johnson is a good storyteller, with a lot of wit and energy as she recounted stories of her life as a newcomer to St. Louis, tying them into the messages of the songs she and her co-stars performed. Accompanied by the proficient Maggie McCarthy on piano, Johnson and cast (Eileen Engel, Lillian Johnson, Rachel Kuenzi, Kendra Moore, Kelvin Urday and Sara Rae Womack) presented an entertaining evening of music that ranged from old standards to musical theatre classics to more current works of musical theatre and pop music.  Johnson is lively and witty, with a particularly expressive face. Her energy and enthusiasm was reflected in songs such as Jeanine Tesori’s “The Girl From 14G” and Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich’s “Taylor the Latte Boy”.  Other highlights included Engel’s solo performance of Frank Wildhorn and Don Black’s “How ‘Bout a Dance” from Bonnie & Clyde, Moore’s rendition of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s “A Trip to the Library” from She Loves Me, and Urday’s emotional rendition of a re-arranged musical theatre-style cover of The Killers’ Mr. Brightside.

Johnson closed out the performance with a rendition of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez’s ubiquitous “Let It Go” from Frozen, delivering a controlled, somewhat restrained rendition that highlighted her vocal expression rather than sheer power.  Johnson and company certainly pleased the extremely enthusiastic audience. Overall, it was enjoyable evening highlighting the talents of some young, promising local performers.

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