“Lee Leesack’s masterful new cabaret show offers a Francophile’s journey through French (and French influenced) material, from Charles Aznavour and Michel Legrand, of course, to Broadway’s Lerner and Loewe (C’est Moi) and Rodgers and Hammerstein (Dites-Moi). Along the way, he reveals both his own intimate connections to his choices and also illuminates it with fresh insights, too. This is the best kind of cabaret: personal as well as passionate it is revelation of an incredibly rich repertoire.”
– Mark Shenton, The Stage (UK)
“American pop music has a plethora of songs with French titles. Take, for example, Rodgers’ & Hammerstein’s “Dites-moi”, and Lerner and Loewe’s “C’est moi” from the world of Broadway. And, legendary French pop singers of the past like Chevalier, Piaf, Brel and Aznavour are almost as well known in the US as Dylan, Presley and Sinatra. So, we should not take for granted the effects of French culture on American music. International singer Lee Lessack concurs as he presents an outstanding cabaret of mixed French and American tunes with a French flavor called Chanteur, vibrantly conceived by director Brian Lane Green.
Lessack’s towering presence and gentle charisma with his audience are strong and his interpretation of the material intense especially with the music of Jacques Brel and Charles Aznavour. He really has a good ear for these classics, digging deeply into the emotions and playing out the quick dramatic twists and turns to the utmost effect. He manifests an uncanny mastery of Brel’s “In the Port of Amsterdam” and “Madeleine” and Aznavour’s “She” and “The Sound of Your Name”. “Yesterday When I Was Young”, also made famous by Aznavour, is a song that was popular worldwide before Paul Anka penned a similar tune for Frank Sinatra, his signature hit “My Way”. Mais oui, French composers lent a lot of la vie and l’amour to the American music scene. “L’Importante C’est La Rose” by Gilbert Becaud, who also penned “What Now My Love”, echoes further the French influence. Also highlighted in the hour-long set is the remarkable Michel Legrand. Lessack goes to the very heart and soul of “Pieces of Dreams”, the haunting “Windmills of Your Mind”, and fiercely romantic “I Will Wait for You”.
Other dependable favorites include “C’est Si Bon”, “Autumn Leaves” by Johnny Mercer and Jacques Prevert and Chevalier’s “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” from Lerner and Loewe’s Gigi. Lessack’s loving encore “Song of Bernadette” by American composers Leonard Cohen, Jenifer Warnes and Bill Elliott richly conveys the undying beliefs of the young French saint in 1858 Lourdes, making universal her hope for the redemption of mankind.
John Randall serves wonderfully as musical director throughout the evening.
Chanteur adds greater dimension to Lee Lessack’s already vast musical repertoire, putting him within la creme de la creme of pop musical artists. His rich vocal style and understated charm make his concerts a sell out wherever he goes. This new and exciting French program should delight Parisiens.”
– Don Grigware, BroadwayWorld.com