new york city

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!

Lauren Krass at The Duplex

Lauren Krass

A Krass Act

The Duplex, NYC, January 12th, 2018

How do you move beyond your dad walking out on your family at the age of seven? You write jokes about it and become a comedian. At least that is what Lauren Krass did for her show “A Krass Act” where she exemplified the modern conception of bravery by showcasing the extent of what dirty laundry might be lurking behind the veil of her black dress.

Of course in some cases it was actually dirty laundry. Spinning a lot of jokes through the lens of romantic rejection, she had arguably her most memorable story about thinking a former flame had left a spillover from steamy drunk sex the night before on her birthday dress. Only to later discover through sly detective work that it was actually tears and the powdered sugar of donuts. Ah, and the trivialities of dating in New York City, aren’t bad enough?

Yes, the show and her jokes take after its title and Lauren’s apt last name. She was crass, bold, and easily entertaining turning often actually pretty serious stories about alcohol and reconnecting with lost fathers into not so subtle jabs at the mysteries of now old world words like Myspace.  If you’re looking for a performer with a firm grasp of irony and enough of a sense of humor to make light of basically everything, Krass is most certainly your gal. I think that the best part of her performance is that she seems to be genuinely comfortable with who she is and excited about where her work will take her.

Photo taken from

Photo taken from

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