Karen Oberlin

A Step Beyond The Rain: The Songs Of Arlen And Harburg

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Last Show: Saturday 1 st September 2018

The Pheasantry (Chelsea)

Karen Oberlin recognizes the world needs more rainbows. No one has written songs more masterfully about these magical occurrences than Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, both of whom were committed to working toward improving the human condition.  Their collaboration on many masterpieces is just as magical. Karen performed a show of  Yip Harburg songs to great acclaim in New York where the New York Times called it a “smart, polished show.” She traveled with the tribute to places such as Brownville Nebraska, Palm Beach, Paris and Caramoor Center for Music and The Arts. A few years ago, Karen added the genius of Harold Arlen to a transformed tribute to these two towering titans of song and this new show debuted at the Café Carlyle just before landing at the Crazy Coqs in London for a week, now coming to The Pheasantry. 

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"Like a breath of spring, Karen Oberlin’s lush vocal renditions of the songs of one of America’s foremost writers of the American theater filled the air of the historic Oak Room. Oberlin cleverly weaves lyrical wonders and Ms. Oberlin's sense of wit (is) continually present. It feels as if she hugs each lyric - Oberlin is joyous to behold." Sandi Durell, Cabaret Scenes Magazine

"Thrilling! Oberlin is as lovely to look at as she is to hear, and diversity fills the air. Breathless when the song is as romantic as a country road, then forceful and full-speed-ahead when the mood turns onto a musical freeway, (her singing) rings true and funny and flawless." Rex Reed, New York Observer

The convergence of the two masters reached its creative and popular pinnacle in 1939 with the beloved film "The Wizard of Oz."  The best known among them, "Over the Rainbow," is now widely accepted as nothing less than "the greatest song of the twentieth century."  Beyond the music for that film of all films, Arlen and Harburg created dozens of blockbuster hits and masterpieces of Broadway and popular songs.

Having a deep love and affinity for both of these songwriters, in her Harburg show the New York Times stated she has "impeccable pop style," "musical intelligence" and "delicately voluptuous phrasing." Rex Reed called her performance "thrilling," and still another New York critic called it "one of the greatest musical events of the year." On the other side of the rainbow, the mutually created masterpieces include "Last Night When We Were Young," "Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe," "Down With Love," and of course Groucho Marx's "Lydia the Tattooed Lady," among many other gems.  In the show, Oberlin explores some of their songs before they had joined forces, and what helped make the magic between them.  Their songs burst with humor, beauty and intelligence, not to mention the songwriters' mutual devotion to making the world a better, more beautiful place. Their body of work is quite unlike any before or since, and Oberlin brings their best moments to radiant life.


"Impeccable pop style... In Ms. Oberlin’s tribute show, she skillfully balances the two sides of Harburg’s sensibility.  In the show’s perfect moment, the little known ballad 'Here’s to Your Illusions,' Ms. Oberlin’s  beautifully shaped reading in the classic pop tradition was one that (Doris) Day in her prime might well have envied." 

- Stephen Holden, The New York Times

"Warm intimacy, pitch perfect, funny, poignant, mellow, sexy and spirited (with) a sophisticated sense of phrasing... Oberlin presented songs of wit, wisdom and passion in a tightly assembled and entertaining flow. Her lush vocal tone and intelligent flair held the point of the story.  Few of today's singers elicit the sense of rapture as naturally and intimately as Karen Oberlin."

- Elizabeth Ahlfors, Cabaret Scenes

Band Lineup

Karen Oberlin (vocals)

Jon Weber (Musical Director)