‘Barbara Cook’s Spotlight: Maureen McGovern’ at The Kennedy Center by Jennifer Perry

Now in its 6th season, the Barbara Cook’s Spotlight Series has succeeded in bringing known and lesser known musical theatre talent to Kennedy Center audiences in a cabaret setting. Award-winning vocalist Maureen McGovern may not be predominately known for her musical theatre background although she has appeared in regional theatre productions and on Broadway as Marmee March in the 2005 production of Little Women. Her cabaret act, interestingly entitled dangling conversations… (Looking for Time and Love in the Digital Age), showcased her textured vocals and strong music story-telling abilities as she (primarily) took on pop and standard hits from the 1960s and 1970s.

Maureen McGovern. Photo by Deborah Feingold.

Her performance of songs such as “Time and Love,” “Turn, Turn, Turn,” and “If I Had a Hammer” demonstrated that Ms. McGovern is just as talented of a storyteller as she is vocalist. Her sultry, jazzy, and, at times, haunting voice fit these songs quite well, but where she most excelled was innately conveying the meaning of each song and raising social consciousness. A mashup of “Sweet Dreams” and “State of the Heart” was also a highlight thanks to a strong arrangement by her musical director Jeffrey Harris. Her best vocal moment of the night came with her first song, “Help Me.” Her strong and powerful voice brought the song to new heights.

With this cabaret performance, Ms. McGovern proved that she does what she does well and has achieved a 40-year career to date due to her natural vocal gifts. Backed by two accomplished musicians (Jeffrey Harris on piano and Jay Leonhart on bass), she brought the audience back to ‘yesteryear’ and certainly lived up to her own admission that she is an ‘old soul’ with her choice to take on some songs about life and love written by the greats. Despite being slightly too one-note for my taste (in terms of song selection and performance style) and having some difficulty remembering all of her lyrics, it was a pleasant evening of songs and stories. It’s refreshing to see someone have such a long career as a vocal artist. Her voice remains one of the best in the business.

Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.

This concert was a one night only event held on October 12, 2012 at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Terrace Theater – 2700 F St, NW in Washington, DC. For tickets to other upcoming concerts in Barbara Cook’s Spotlight Series or any other performance in the 2012-2013 Kennedy Center theatre season, call the box office at (202) 467-4600 or purchase them online.


Maureen McGovern’s website.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here