Susan Batson Studio presents Mary Setrakian Student Showcase

Mary Setrakian

Susan Batson Studio presents Mary Setrakian Student Showcase

The Triad, NYC, August 28th, 2018

Reviewed by Chris Struck


By chance I found myself at The Triad for a Showcase of talent taught by the wonderful, Mary Setrakian, who lit up the stage with both her charm and her exceptional vocal talent especially on her finale performance of “Never Enough” from The Greatest Showman (Benj Pasek and Justin Paul). However, it was not a surprise to see the Master Vocal Teacher excel, it was up to her students to be the surprises of the evening. There were a few notables that deserve the utmost praise for their ability to exemplify the dedication necessary to perform at or near Setrakian’s standard. But first, it is noteworthy to mention the host for the evening Susan Campanaro, who as alter ego, Lavinia Draper, changed costumes between singers and then introduced them with flair. If she hadn’t been in ensembles resembling lingerie and bikinis for most of the night, she would have been the classiest of the affair. However, that was reserved for the talent who performed generally two songs each that were of varying styles.


The striking vocal performances early were turned in by Lexie Lowell, Verlon Brown (performing as Nat King Cole), and Abigail Witt. These three combined to show that Setrakian’s vocal workshop provided dimension as well as volume. Lowell’s “Like Love” (Cy Coleman and David Zippel) from City of Angels struck a nostalgic chord while Verlon Brown’s “Tenderly” (Walter Gross and Jack Lawrence) doubled the amorous tide that filtered from the stage. Extending their performances to a darker frame, Abigail Witt struck a dominant note and held out a weary heart crooning, “I know it’s time/and I play/maybe I like it this way” from the Wild Party song, “Maybe I Like it This Way” by Andrew Lippa.


Over and above the rest of the cast, however, were James Borrelli, Eloïse Mueller, and Chantelle Cognevich who rounded out the evening before Setrakian strutted her vocal stuff on stage once again. Borrelli’s vocal talent could not be denied as he charmed with an inspiring “Feeling Good” (Anthony Newley and Leslie Briousse). Birds flying high indeed. Flying higher, however, was Mueller who defied gravity by performing the operatic, “Steal me Sweet Thief” from The Old Maid and the Thief (Gian Carl Menotti) and the contemporary musical classic “Defying Gravity” from Wicked (Stephen Schwartz). One of the simultaneously strongest and softest of voices of the night, she soared when she went from “Unlimited, together we’re unlimited,” to, “I’m flying high, defying gravity!” Following her was an equally impressive, Chantelle Cognevich who sang an inspiring rendition of “No other Love” from the Rodgers and Hammerstein gem, Me and Juliet. “Watching the night go by/Wishing that you could be/Watching the night with me” brought the mood back to the ardent affection that had opened the evening so well.


The work being done at the Susan Batson Studio and by Mary Setrakian impressed me greatly. Take your own look soon!