Media Articles Written About Wren Ross
Boston Globe Calendar
Mopsy Strange Kennedy
The Tab Arts Journal
The Taos News
The Jewish Advocate
New England Entertainment Digest
Beverly King on "Musical Feast"
Stories and Music Aid in Understanding of Shoah
Boston Globe Calendar
Spotlight on Cabaret
Wren Ross is known for the way she turns
songs inside out to infuse with irony. She may, for example, perform
a traditionally romantic ballad like Ray Nobel's classic "The
Very Thought of You" in a humorous tone, changing it into
a song about loathing instead of loving.
Ross, an actress whose voice may be familiar from
New England Telephone recordings and from ads for Marshalls and
Jeep and Eagles dealers, also likes to use her shows to introduce
songs from new composers, or unfamiliar songs from established
"With cabaret there's opportunity to have a
dialogue," she said. "There's something really satisfying
about just working with a piano. We're so overloaded with stimulus
that we need these quiet, personal songs that can help us explore
what life is about."
Wren Ross performs her show, "Unexpected
Song" in the Club Cabaret room, at Club Café, 209
Columbus Ave., Boston, March 20 and 27 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15;
The Improper Bostonian Magazine
Mopsy Strange Kennedy
Catch the torch songs of Wren Ross on April 11
at the Club Cafe in the South End, on May 17 at the Levanthal
Sidman Jewish Center in Newton and in June at the Acton Jazz Cafe.
Versatile Wren, for 11 years a cast member in Shear
Madness, is in your mind's ear, whether you know it or not,
as the voice of New England Telephone and many other commercials
and voiceovers. Her pretty voice is full of conversational ease,
tripping alongside the bubbling brook of the piano accompaniment.
As demonstrated in her periodic appearances in the cozy cabaret
of Club Cafe on Columbus Avenue, Wren can also hit a wistful tone,
as in the song, "My Brother Lived in San Francisco,"
which only requires that past tense to convey the message. There's
a bluesiness-with-mischief in some of her repertoire, a singing
against the usual grain. "I like to take a standard song
and change the subtext," she says. And because of the intimacy
of the cabaret style, Wren manages to tell stories in her songs,
such as the one that begins with worldly bravado about a lost
love and then moves, affectingly, to a hungrier longing for comfort
and resolution of the affair. Something almost girlish, recalling
the romantic heroine of The Fantasticks pulls against a
more womanly, sadder-but-wiser trend in her singing, tugging you
into her performance. And besides, she's a dish.
Panorama: the Official Guide to
She's Not a Lark
She's a Wren. A Cabaret Renaissance is taking flight,
and leading the resurgence is Wren Ross, who with her feathery
vocals and acting finesse is leaving audiences all aflutter.
With a musical repertoire including classical, jazz,
folk, pop, blues, and musical theatre, Ross executes a wide range
of notes and styles which manifest themselves through the prodigious
characters cloaked in the wings of lyrics and music.
Having performed in New York and Boston for 20 years,
playing in Boston's long-running Shear Madness for 11,
and touring internationally in such venues as Malta and Sicily,
Ross delivers wit and sentiment, authenticity and originality
to a lost art form.
Her pristine voice has been heard in hundreds of
radio spots, working with such notable talent as revered anchorman
Walter Cronkite, actor Jason Robards and song-and-dance man Ben
Certain to cause an audience migration, on March
27 Ross brings "Unexpected Song" to Club Café,
her lilting voice soaring and subsequently swooping effortlessly
with each aria, ballad and showtune.
The Tab - "Arts & More:
This Wren Can Sing
by Christie Taylor
She can sing "Happy Trails" as
a gospel song and turn an Italian aria into a country-western
ditty. She's a singer, actress and voice-overs queen, and has
worked on commercials for New England Telephone and Marshall's.
And she's a featured performer at the Club Café
this month as Boston celebrates Cabaret Month.
Her name is Wren Ross.
"Ideas for my songs come to me on a whiff and
a breeze," explains the rich-voiced Ross. "I take music
and create twists and turns."
For those unfamiliar with cabaret and its origins,
it began in Europe when people came together during troubled times
to share laughter and song. Cabaret Month, organized by the Boston
Association of Cabaret Artists in conjunction with the Cambridge
Center for Adult Education is a sign that there's still a
need for this kind of social interaction. As Ross explains, "Having
a piano and a human sing about human being things is very powerful
and very satisfying."
Cabaret performances are also very individual, and
not every performer is as innovative as Ross is with her lyrics.
While she can be serious and sentimental, her work is also good
for a laugh or two, partially due to her collaboration with comedienne
"Unexpected Song" is the title of the
show she'll perform at Club Café, and in it Ross professes
to sing, among others, "a song you can take to your therapist."
For more information about Wren Ross in her
show, "Unexpected Song" in the Club Cabaret room,
at Club Club Café, 209 Columbus Ave., Boston, March 20
and 27 at 8 p.m. call 617-628-9736.
The Taos News
Laughing on the precipice
Y2K Cabaret pokes delicious fun at millennium anxiety
By Phaedra Greenwood
What's so funny about Y2K?
Just about everything, if you're rolling in the
aisle at the Y2K Cabaret with Daena Giardella and Wren Ross.
Y2K Cabaret made its debut performance at LB's Coffeehouse
Saturday (Aug. 14) to a small but appreciative audience. Giardella
gave a stunning, versatile and high-energy performance as Louise
Travail who has "a lot of nervous energy and a long history
of making lists." Travail is struggling to deal with "all
the anxiety that accompanies a paradigm shift in the choreography
of an enormously mysterious alignment with the Grand Cross. What
the hell does that mean?"
Ross sings, "Whatever way you see it/it's all
about the unknown/You can't control tomorrow/and you might not
be able to use the phone."
"Y2K Cabaret" is a delicious alchemy of
darkness and light as Giardella mocks the double message in the
Y2K preparedness list from the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) that is supposed to cover the breakdown of civilization
and the interruption of essential services which
they say is going to be "just a bump in the road." This
triggers an anxiety attack as Louise Travail wonders, "Will
my toaster start to conspire with my toilet so my car won't recognize
me?" She retreats to the 60's where she can "be in her
Giardella is adept at changing costumes and personas
from her inner child, who keeps popping out to do cartwheels and
ask for lollipops, to her whining and demanding mother in red
rhinestone glasses and other intriguing characters like the sympathetic
Sal, a sinister hit man in a black trench coat and
jockey briefs, guides Louise through a transformative dream which
she can't quite remember. "Dreams are more important that
oxygen, food or water," Travail declares. "We'll never
see a shortage of dreams."
The bumpy journey through the anxieties of Y2K,
the millennium change that threatens to send computer clocks back
to 1900, is buffered by the lovely voice of songwriter-guitarist
Ross. She plays millennium minstrel, Marcia, who occasionally
breaks out in an Italian aria. Jim Hobbs, dressed in white with
shaved head, adds testosterone to the dance peformance in Giardella's
portrayal of the tortured teenager, Tracy. Some members of the
audience were brought to tears by Tracy's stormy performance as
she declares, "You adults screwed it up for my generation
and everybody after me. My grandkids are going to glow in the
dark like lightbulbs."
The audience is incorporated into a Y2K community
meeting to strategize, "process" their feelings and
align their chakras. Ché Pirozak Lillick, age 9, wearing
a red beret, brings some child-like sanity to the scene as Travail
fields from the audience a Taoseños list of things to stock
up on, which begins with green chile and runs the gamut from clean
water, bicycles and firewood, to comic books and guitar strings.
It's hard to realize that the performance is largely
an improv, with "islands" of destination. Giardella
and Ross interact in a playful, seamless way with the audience
as they enjoy the comical efforts of a character called "Kit
Carson" working on his compliance program to reconnect local
circuits before the New Year's Day deadline "It's
not a problem!"
In a sequence about Travail's love-hate relationship
with her dying computer, Pal (played by T.C. Lillick) the computer,
makes her promise that if anything happens to it, she'll take
care of its mouse.
The tension of the play is resolved with positive
images of a simpler life in a place where you got to know your
neighbors and learn to live in a cooperative community. Ross sings,
"May you walk a path that fills your life with grace and
truth/May your spirit soar high with your art/May you see your
strength reflected in your best friend's eyes/May great love fill
the rooms of your heart."
THE JEWISH ADVOCATE
November 24 - 30, 2000
ROSS PERFORMS MUSIC OF VILNA GHETTO
by Matthew S. Robinson
BOSTON - On Dec. 3, singer Wren Ross will present
a program with Dr. Solon Beinfeld on "The Cultural Life and
Music of the Vilna Ghetto" at the Workmen's Circle in Brookline.
An 11-year veteran of the popular Boston production
of "Shear Madness," Ross has performed one-woman shows
throughout the region and has worked with the likes of Walter
Cronkite, Jason Robards and Ben Vereen.
A featured soloist at the "Anne Frank in the
World" exhibit in Albuquerque, Ross has recently dedicated
herself to researching and performing music of the Holocaust.
Though her devotion to the topic is strong, it was
borne of somewhat unusual circumstances. A year-and-a-half ago,
Ross read about a performance of a song from a musical called
"I leapt up off the chair and called all around
to find this song," Ross recalls, "though I didn't know
The song was called Freiling ("Springtime")
and ever since learning it, Ross has been inspired to delve ever-deeper
into the music and history of its era.
"I became totally fascinated with this music,"
Ross says, "I went about a lot of research."
Through exhaustive reading and interviews, Ross
developed a strong sense of the Holocaust, especially the Vilna
"I never intended to do research on the Holocaust,"
Ross admits, "but now it gives me a great deal of meaning."
Ross learned over 200 songs performed during the
Nazi occupation of Poland. She also discovered that the mother
of her friend and fellow performer Naava Piatka was the lead singer
of the Vilna Ghetto.
"Naava also told me about Dr. Solon Beinfeld,"
Ross explains, recalling how she met the noted Holocaust scholar
and Workmen's Circle board member.
Realizing their common interests, Ross and Beinfeld
began collaborating on a team project.
The result is an all-Yiddish presentation which
debut at the Workmen's Circle.
"The Workmen's Circle is a huge advocate for
Yiddish culture and they are so important in keeping that breath
alive," Ross says.
"Music has great healing power and the Holocaust
is a huge rip in the fabric of the history of our lives,"
Ross says. "Perhaps the only way to mend the rip is through
ways that go beyond the mind to the emotional and spiritual elements
of life. Each one of these songs is so special and so beautiful,
they work both as art and as a means of consciousness-raising
and they give me more meaning and put things in perspective as
Go to Top
Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center Monthly Newsletter
Wren Ross in Then & Now A Cabaret
directed by Daena Giardella
Sunday, May 17, 2pm
"A STRONG VOICE AND SURE STAGE PRESENCE"
-THE BOSTON GLOBE
Music is the song of the soul, the universal language
that unites the generations. "Then and Now" is a musical
feast created especially for the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community
Center by performer Wren Ross. Inspired by the Starr Gallery exhibit
"Women Whose Lives Span the Century," Ross adds her
melodic voice and acting gifts in this celebration.
Drawing on universal themes to give voice to the
struggles and joys of the men and women of the era, Ross uses
song, poetry, and narration in English, Yiddish and Hebrew. In
true cabaret style, she creates an intimate personal dialogue
with all of the generations together in one space, one time. Her
performance is authentic, honest, funny and touching.
This is a wonderful opportunity to bring mothers
and fathers, aunts and uncles, older children and grandchildren
together for an afternoon of reminiscence and celebration. A reception
and opportunity to view the Starr Gallery Exhibit will follow
the performance. This event is sponsored by the "Coalition
for Aging is a Family Affair."
An Interview with Wren Ross
by Machadash Editor Melissa Wenig
Wren Ross has been performing in the New York
and Boston areas for more than twenty years. Her recent singing
engagements have included Cafe Mozart in New York City, and clubs
such as the Kendall Cafe, 1290 Beacon Street, Blacksmith House
and the Lenox Hotel in Boston. In March she performed at Club
Cafe in "Unexpected Song." She was a cast member of
"Shear Madness" for eleven years and has many singing
and dancing credits.
MW: What was the impetus for creating this
WR: I am always looking for interesting new venues for
my work. As a Jewish woman and an artist, it seemed like the JCC
had great potential. I talked with Theatre Director David Miadinov
and he suggested I speak to Group Services Director Debra Offenhartz.
She and I began to brainstorm an idea for a cross-generational
show and Then and Now was born.
MW: How did you develop your material?
WR: I listened to the tapes of the women who were interviewed
for the "Women Whose Lives Span the Century" project.
I did a lot of research into songs from the tenements, Yiddish
songs, and songs of the twenties and thirties. Also, I did a lot
of reading and thinking about what it means to be a human being,
moving through the many rites of passages of a lifetime.
MW: Did you find your own life being affected
by the material you covered?
WR: I did. This particular piece has turned into a very
personal and powerful journey for me. Through the music and the
stories, I reclaimed a piece of my own life my Jewish
roots, which intensified my desire to connect with Judaism on
a deeper level. Also, I loved my grandmother very much and this
work, which focuses so much on the span of her lifetime, has just
activated the love I feel for her.
MW: What are your hopes for the JCC performance?
WR: That people will connect with the stories and the song.
That we are all reminded that what is universal to the generations
is that each of our stories is worthwhile and meaningful today...and
Go to Top
New England Entertainment Digest
Ross Returns with Unexpected Song
BOSTON, MA: For years you've heard her as the voice
of New England Telephone, and in hundreds of other radio and television
commercials including the Channel 4 "Free Friday Flicks"
spot that aired all last summer. Yet on the first day on spring,
when Wren Ross takes wing in "Unexpected Song"
her first of two shows at Club Café you are
likely to feel that you are hearing her voice for the very first
time. Indeed, a common audience response to Wren's clear, sumptuous
voice is "This woman is incredible!"
But it is not her singing alone that makes her shows
unforgettable. Wren combines her glorious voice and acting gifts
to embody the unexpected characters hidden in the lyrics and the
music. Added to this is a range of music she draws from that few
performers can match classical, jazz, folk, pop, blues,
and musical theatre. Whether she is offering us a knock-your-socks-off
rendition of "Nel Cor Piu Non Mi Sento," an Italian
aria; or inviting us to open up and trust again in "Wall
Around Your Heart," Wren Ross creates a seamless experience
for her audience that is as fresh as it is intimate, and as authentic
and honest as it is often funny, and touching, as people have
"...wonderful...strong voice and sure
The Boston Globe
"...Ross, always an interesting player."
..."stunning Tour de Force."
The Boston Phoenix
"...true and stirring."
The Boston Herald
Wren Ross has been performing in the New York and
Boston areas for twenty years. Her recent singing engagements
have included the Café Mozart in New York City, and clubs
such as the Kendall Café, 1280 Beacon Street, Blacksmith
House, and the Lenox Hotel in Boston. This past summer, Wren played
to enthusiastic European audiences in Malta and Sicily
where she toured the ancient Greek theatres of Morgantina, Syracuse
Ross was a cast member of Shear Madness (Boston's
longest running play) for eleven years, and appeared in major
roles at The Charles Playhouse, The Next Move Theatre, and The
Boston Repertory Theatre. Her one-woman show, A Strong Woman
Is... received much acclaim throughout New England. In addition
to her various singing and dramatic credits, Wren can be seen
and heard in hundreds of broadcast spots. She has worked with
such notable personalities as Walter Cronkite, Jason Robards,
Mason Adams and Ben Vereen. Her voice can be heard in major museums
across the United States, and she has also appeared in several
award-winning CD-ROM productions. Among her television voice-over
credits are the PBS programs NOVA, The People's Century,
and Celebration of the American Family. Wren narrated She
Lives to Ride, a feature film about female motorcyclists.
Daena Giardella is an actress, dancer, comedienne,
and theatre director. She has created and performed numerous one-woman
theatre pieces to wide critical acclaim both locally and abroad.
For the last few years, the duo have stimulated each other's work,
exchanging artistic insights; for example, with Giardella's most
recent show, PLAY, and with Ross' newest show, Unexpected
Song, which Giardella co-directed.
Get your first spring rush you know,
that thrill you feel when the single call of a bird can make you
stop and wonder at the sheer beauty of sound. Join Wren Ross at
Club Café March 20 and 27 for Unexpected Song. It
will ring in your ears long after you've gone home. Call (617)
628-9736 for tickets and information.
Wren Ross' Musical Feast Serves
Up Food for the Soul
by Bev King
Wren Ross' "Musical Feast" is a joyful
spirited banquet. "Musical Feast" played Thursday, April
3 and Saturday, April 5 at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education's
Ross' two-hour Feast is a high-energy, fast-paced
musical delight highlighting Wren Ross' significant vocal, dramatic
and comedic talents. Ross is an entertainer who understands that
her audience is her raison d'etre on stage. Wren's joy
at making beautiful, soulful sounds is infectious. Her audience
knows she's having fun, and they are too.
During the evening, Ross traverses a wide range
of emotions. She touches our hearts, makes us laugh, and helps
us see the best in life. Her heartfelt rendition of Amanda McBroom's
"Here and Now" casts a soulful spell on her audience
that remains through the bittersweet "With One Look"
from Andrew Lloyd Weber's Sunset Boulevard. She moves through
the raucous "20 Mile Zone," Dory Previn's uproariously
funny story of a woman stopped by a cop in a 20 mile zone with
verve and wit. Ross' ability to create and inhabit a character
plays strong in "20 Mile Zone." Ross cavorts through
Christine Lavin's "Mysterious Woman," a rendition filled
with fun and surprise.
Wren's treatment of Nancy Ford and Gretchen Cryer's
ballad, "Old Friends," from Getting My Act Together
And Taking It On The Road speaks touchingly of the universal
themes of love and friendship.
Versatility is one of Ross' strong suits and she
brings this into play when she performs "Nel Cor Piu Non
Mi Sento," an aria from Giovanni Paisiello's 1789 L'Amor
Contrasto. Ms. Ross sings the aria first in Italian and then
in English, country-western style. The country-western version
is both stunning and original.
Doug Hammer accompanies Wren on the piano. Hammer's
accompaniment is just right. His piano enhanced the human voice.
His playing was expressive and inspiring.
Ross invites the audience to add to her musical
Feast by joining her in a simple Hasidic chant. Daena Giardella,
the show's director, added drum accompaniment to Hammer's piano.
Wren Ross is gifted with a beautiful naturally resonant,
strong voice. Her vocal power and control is notable. Ross' demonstrated
artistry and versatility in meeting the style demands of her "Musical
Feast" is impressive. Wren Ross, chanteuse for the 90's,
is an artist we should see more of.
Go to Top
The New Mexico
Stories and Music Aid
in Understanding of Shoah
by Susan Abonyi
For many of us, the Holocaust, the Shoah, is something
we have learned about through books and movies. Some may have
had family members recount personal stories and experiences. But,
there are those among us, who learned about the Shoah the hard
way — by living it.
Seventy years later, there are still those around who were in
concentration camps, were refugees, or hidden children during
the time of the Shoah. They are an invaluable source of, not only
knowledge and truth, but of inspiration and hope as well.
This year, the Yom Hashoah service took place on Sunday, April
18, at Congregation Albert. The focus was on “The Music
of the Shoah” and on “members of our own Albuquerque
community who survived as refugees, who without having experienced
the worst, were nonetheless profoundly affected by the harrowing
experiences as they faced uncertainty,” commented Holocaust
Committee Chairman Robert Lewis in his opening remarks.
After the candle lighting, which was done by six
refugees from our community, Lewis and Holocaust Committee member
Edie Blaugrund read the personal histories of six Albuquerque
refugees. Although the stories were all different, they all shared
common themes — loss, pain, fear, humiliation, courage,
These themes were also magnificently portrayed in the musical
portion of the service. The performers Wren Ross, a musician and
actress and Daena Giardella, an actress and motivational speaker
both currently reside in Taos. They took the audience through
an emotional journey of some of the poetry and music that came
out of the Shoah. Over 300 songs were collected from all the camps
after the war.
For most of us, it is hard to imagine that music
can come from something as atrocious and evil as the Holocaust.
Ross commented that, “there is a kind of spiritual resistance
about the idea that people sing even in those circumstances.”
But, as one survivor wrote, “The Jewish people came to such
a deep state of despair that only singing could help. When one
sings, even if he sings a sad song, his loneliness disappears.
He listens to his own voice; he and his voice become two people.
Singing is a manifestation of hope. The Nazis could take everything
from us, but they could not take singing from us. This remained
our only human expression.”
Giardella went on to explain that, “one of
the things that came out of the Shoah is this amazing resistance
that comes in the form of the poetry of the soul. Some of these
poems were then set to music; some to melodies of songs that were
already known. These words that were wrought out of the hell and
torment and unspeakable conditions, some of these unspeakable
words were inserted into melodies as if to say, ‘The shell
of the life we had before is no more what my life is now and must
be imbued with other syllables that are not utterable.’”
Through the music, poetry and stories that Ross
and Giardella shared with great passion and skill, the audience
was able to gain a better understanding of how music and poetry
from the Holocaust were not only possible, but were natural and
They allowed the victims to express unbearable emotions,
to retain some humanity and dignity, to fill others with strength
and hope, and ultimately to allow future generations to understand
with a little more clarity and compassion.
For those of us who did not live through the devastating
and horrific time of the Holocaust, it is hard to imagine how
those who survived must feel with those unspeakable memories haunting
them daily. How they must feel in a world where many of the same
anti-Semitic sentiments are evident around us and are growing
day by day.
Yom Hashoah is a day to remember the Holocaust —
those who perished and those who survived. It is a time to mourn
senseless death, as well as honor bravery and strength. Rabbi
Joe Black, of Congregation Albert said that in remembering, “all
our emotions come forth — pain, anger, bewilderment —
with song and prayer and pride and pain.” He also reminded
the audience that it is necessary to learn from our past.
Werner Gellert, who was a refugee in the Shanghai
Ghetto and is a member of the Holocaust Committee, talked about
the fact that to remember the Shoah is no longer enough. “We
live in a world that is as terrible as it was 70 years ago,”
he said. “We must institute a strong and aggressive public
relations campaign that will inform the world of the truth.”