press reviews

Narration | Cabaret

THE DIME

by Kathleen Kent

This entry in contemporary crime fiction by a historical novelist may remind listeners of the Sara Paretsky series: good writing, sexual polemics, clear adversaries. Brooklyn cop Betty Rhyzyk and her girlfriend relocate to Dallas, Texas, where Betty battles with culture shock and a series of complex cases. Narrator Cynthia Farrell is an asset, handling the Texas accents well, particularly that of a hyper-religious, grandma-like cult leader. Farrell enunciates the latter trait in this character–making her tone one of tolerant, sweet reason as she actually dispenses a mix of doctrinal idiocies and scary maternal advice. Both Kent and Farrell make it clear that the Betty is a strong, complex–and sometimes implacable–woman. In her situation, she has to so be.

D.R.W. © AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine
[Published: MAY 2017] Source

Weight of Feathers

by Anna Marie Mclemore

Narrators Kirby Heyborne and Cynthia Farrell enhance the beauty of the language in this story. In the two decades since the accident that killed a member of each family, the Palomas and Corbeaus have clashed bitterly as they compete for the biggest audiences. The Hispanic Palomas strive to mesmerize their audiences with beguiling mermaids swimming in lakes and rivers, while the French Corbeaus seek to amaze with their fairies walking the tallest treetops. The narrators depict the meeting and subsequent relationship between Lace Paloma and Cluck Corbeau, flavoring their performances with authentic accents and a tempered pace that matches the magical realism of this star-crossed tale. The dual reading reflects the emotional struggles both teens experience as they fight their feelings, and their families, to stay together.

J.M. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
[Published: APRIL 2016] Source

What Motivates Getting Things Done

by Mary Lamia

Dear Michele Cobb (of MMB Media/VP Audiofile Magazine) ,

Yesterday I discovered that my book, What Motivates Getting Things Done: Procrastination, Emotion, and Success, is on Audible. I was quite apprehensive as I downloaded the audiobook. Although I am a psychologist and professor, I also hosted a talk show on Radio Disney stations for nine years and there I became familiar with the world of voice acting. Adding to my trepidation during the download was a recent disappointing experience with my publisher who inadvertently ran out of books 3 weeks following the release, with none available until mid-September (Amazon had to cancel pending orders). Clearly, I needed some activation of joy that seemed to be as unavailable as my book.

Cynthia Farrell’s voice not only brought my book to life, but gave me profound pleasure. Her narration was exceptional and her prosodic excellence is unmatched. As someone who has researched emotions and understands how they are conveyed in vocal rhythms and tones, I have firm conviction that Cynthia Farrell will garner the interest and attention of those who listen to the book. As an example, I later handed the headset to my husband, simply asking him to listen “for a minute” to the narration. He ended up in an easy chair with a smile on his face, asking for more time when I wanted it back. Clearly, Cynthia Farrell’s cadence and intonation are mesmerizing. Moreover, in the book are two brief sentences in Italian. Since my parents spoke to each other in Italian throughout my childhood, the narration of those words was important to me; specifically, the flow and pattern of sounds. I skipped to those sentences in the last chapter and again listened with a critical ear. I felt at home. Yet in listening to that chapter I also noticed an important subtlety: Through her voice Cynthia Farrell captured how the last chapter of the book is significantly more personal than the rest.

Thus, I want to express my wholehearted appreciation to Audible for choosing Cynthia Farrell as the narrator for my book. If I eventually find the energy to write a sixth book, I would love to have Cynthia Farrell be my voice.

Sincerely,
Mary Lamia

Mary C. Lamia, Ph.D.
http://www.marylamia.com
http://www.whatmotivatesgettingthingsdone.com

Cabaret

For Real 2.0

by Joel Benjamin | April 14, 2014

Cynthia Farrell took the stage at the Metropolitan Room on April 10th with the determined tread of a tough cookie, her sharp features emphasized by a pixie hairdo, but when she opened her mouth to sing she revealed vulnerability and pathos. Her successful professional career, which includes dubbing a voice for an immensely popular foul-mouthed video game character, was nearly undermined by a deteriorating marriage which began, like most, as a true romance.

Stephen Schwartz’s “Chanson” evoked her contentment in everyday pleasures while “100 Years” (Five for Fighting) went even further in its suggestion of life’s wonders at every age. Both songs were sung in a soft but deep voice, savoring every emotion. She used her tenderly rendered “Loving You” (Sondheim) and “I Have a Love” (Bernstein/Sondheim) to express her almost blind dedication to her soon to be ex, the latter sounding more weary than passionate. She visited her Latino side in Roman Rojas’ “Oscuridad” and mentioned some very poor advice her mother gave her which brought Ms. Farrell’s marriage only closer to dissolution.

Her “Both Sides Now” (Joni Mitchell) was slow and, for once, had deep personal resonance while her interpretation of Sondheim’s “Move On,” though superficially upbeat, was acted with just a touch of desperation. Michel Legrand’s “Piece of Sky,” the title character in Streisand’s Yentl’s anthem, was stripped of overwrought emotions with which it’s usually performed and given a small-scale intensity that registered like a lasar beam in the confines of this small cabaret room.

Her yearnings came through loud and clear in Sondheim’s “Being Alive.” But, it was a sweet, lovely “Blackbird” (Paul McCartney) that ended the program on a quiet note.

The arrangements by her music director/accompanist Fran Minarik were sophisticated, often creating exciting tension between the vocal and piano lines. His versions of these well-known songs were always fresh.

Read the full review here

For Real

by Stephen Sorokoff "A Voice to be Heard"

Usually the thick velvet curtains that separate the bar area from the performance room of the Metropolitan Room prevent you from hearing a vocalist. Not so with Cynthia Farrell. Her thick velvet dexterous and powerful voice resounded gloriously in all corners of this famed 22nd street bastion for singers.  The title of her show says a lot, “For Real” and Cynthia is definitely the real deal. The intensity and earnestness she brings to her performance can at times be quite mesmerizing.  Check her out, you’ll be treated to a “real” voice singing some of those Broadway “real’ songs.

Source: Times Square Chronicles | Article no longer available

A Piece on Cynthia Farrell

by Mark Dundas Wood | June 29, 2013

With her smooth, controlled, powerful voice, her deep concentration, and her diligent attention to enunciation and phrasing, Cynthia Farrell, now making her cabaret debut at Don’t Tell Mama, is a talent to keep a sharp eye on. The emotional intensity she can bring to a song, along with the way she pronounces certain words while singing, call to mind the spell-weaving early work of Jane Olivor. At one point in the evening, Farrell notes that she’s “half Mexican.” But there’s something in the way she sings certain phrases that sounds Irish (something her surname would support). Whatever her heritage, she’s a singer with presence.

The highlight of the set is a moving, flawlessly executed medley of Stephen Sondheim’s “Loving You” and Leonard Bernstein and Sondheim’s “I Have a Love.” Every note of the medley is full-bodied, assured, and lovely. Together, the pair of songs becomes a confession of romantic obsession and a coming to terms with that obsession. Farrell smiles at moments at the hopelessness of her overpowering devotion, but it’s a wise smile—and therefore a slightly sad one.

Farrell’s program has an autobiographical slant. She and writer-director James Horvath have created a story arc about finding love, starting a family, having it all fall apart, and then rebounding through a program of self-reflection and inner-strength building. It’s a familiar tack, of course, to build an act around one’s personal journey. It’s not what I would have recommended for a debut show, but for the most part, Farrell makes it work—although the narrative thread gets lost during parts of the program. The most interesting use of a song in service of her personal tale is the repurposing of Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg’s “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead” as a celebration of the exorcism of the witch-like part of her personality that emerged following the collapse of her marriage This song is the lightest fare of the evening—and the jazz-inflected arrangement gives Farrell a chance to do some sprightly scat singing. On the night I saw her, “Ding-Dong!” was a crowd pleaser.

Not all of the selections are as effective. I believe this is due in part to some of the arrangements by musical director and pianist Fran Minarik, which tend to be heavy on dissonance and a kind of edgy, experimental quality that sometimes proves distracting. For instance, the opening number, Bernstein and Sondheim’s “Something’s Coming,” is outfitted with a kind of avant-garde boogie-woogie underpinning that doesn’t serve the singer at all. Here I felt Farrell was swimming upstream against the current of Minarik’s playing.

But—like the Sondheim/Bernstein medley—other selections, such as the trembling-with-emotion “100 Years” (John Ondrasik), are delivered in a graceful, resonant voice. Farrell gets to show off her talent for belting on two forceful numbers that close the program: Sondheim’s “Being Alive” and Michel Legrand and Marilyn and Alan Bergman’s “A Piece of Sky.” I would have advised her to pick one of these and discard the other in favor of something less bombastic. She does return to a quieter mode for her encore, Lennon and McCartney’s “Blackbird.” There are some moments of phrasing in that number that suggest that Farrell would do well to add some blues-oriented selections in future shows. I’d also like to hear what she can do with something in a swinging, lilting key—perhaps some up-tempo Gershwin or Berlin. As with her inclusion of “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead,” such additions might offset the dramatic selections, thereby making them seem even stronger and more poignant.

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