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This Month on Stage
Review of Shooting Stars

Shooting Stars: Songs and Stories of Tom Brown

(Singer Joan Crowe) Is Joan Crowe’s debut Shooting Stars: Songs and Stories of Tom Brown, so exciting because of her verve and talent? Well, yes, but it has even more going for it than that. The show is a beautiful but together tribute to her close friend, the late songwriter, best known for “Jonathan Wesley Oliver, Jr.,”inspired by the AIDS quilt, a simple and wrenching song which has become fairly well known in cabaret. Don’t fear that Stars is unremittingly depressing (although dignified people have been seen furtively to wipe their eyes in the audience). This is a celebration by one talent by another, and Crowe wisely avoids wallowing in misery, choosing to talk about Brown’s puckish side, using delightful anecdotes as well as his songs. Even when she discuses his illness, his bravery and humor (and hers as well) shine through, and her matter-of fact style, never melodramatic, serves her well. Crowe has a charming, intelligent presence and quite a lovely singing voice. She is also able to connect completely and instantly with her audience, cementing the intimacy so important to cabaret. It is as if she is confiding in them, sharing in a few private moments some important memories. Brown’s songs vary from light romps to articulate ballads of love, wonder, and loss. It is another case of a body of work cut short, but thanks to Joan Crowe’s eloquent love for him and for the material, Tom Brown lives even for those of us who did not know him.