Gina Leishman

Composer, Multi-instrumentalist, and Singer

Theatre

Mother Courage

“Let’s just rename this Gina Leishman Month. The composer has been busy, creating new scores for two music-heavy shows: Mother Courage at Berkeley Rep, and CalShakes’ As You Like It at the Bruns. What’s interesting is how in both cases she has composed with an ear not to the refined beauty of some of her earlier work — although the music is often lovely — but to something more raw (Courage) or earthy (As You Like It). The two shows couldn’t be more different in their style and staging, yet in both Leishman’s music gives them real people having real emotional reactions — anger, flirtation, longing, disdain.”
– East Bay Express

“a stunning and effective new score by Gina Leishman”
– Contra Costa Times

“Gina Leishman’s songs…disjunct and sharp-edged, by turns harsh and achingly beautiful…honor the spirit of Brecht’s composers, Paul Dessau and Kurt Weill [and] scored for the perfect Brecht ensemble: tuba, accordion and honky-tonk piano.”
– ocregister.com

“Especially brilliant is Gina Leishman’s original score. The show’s 12 songs (are) wonderfully harsh, circusy, and chilling”
– Backstage

“She may have moved to New York 10 years ago, but the Bay Area will be hearing a lot from Gina Leishman this week…”
– Sam Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle

Burning Dreams

“The real star of Burning Dreams is Gina Leishman’s music. The piece is an opera, often atonal. it is sung throughout and accompanied by quirky instruments. Along with clarinets and saxes, there’s a charango, a surdo, a ‘naive trumpet’ (which makes one wonder why) and Leishman’s trademark accordion. Leishman, who also scored the wonderful music for the Rep’s Red Noses in 1988, also plays a ‘glass armonica’, running her fingers over spinning glasses of water and creating ethereal resonances. The music (is) the real narrator of the story, the primary language…”
– Jeff Smith, San Diego Reader

Feast of Fools

“…95 minutes of superb physical comedy punctuated by delightful musical mayhem and leavened with poignant, unspoken reflections on the human condition… (a) completely silent comedy show. Silent, that is…except for the sublimely comic music – on piano, accordion, a wailing and popping saxophone and a melodious glass armonica – and performed by Leishman, who also growl-croons a delectably whiskey-voiced decadent Falling Apart Again” a la Dietrich. …Leishman proves a superb comic foil as well as an inspired composer of the humorous accompanying score and a brilliant ‘orchestra of one’. In her elegant black satin gown (costumes by Mary Larson), she supports and footnotes Hoyle with wide-eyed Imogene Coca-like elastic expressions, periodically taking refuge in passionate attacks on the Moonlight Sonata or the martinis she concocts from her well-stocked, cleverly-disguised liquor cabinet.”
– Robert Hurwitt, S.F. Chronicle, Jan.29, 2003

Karen Kohler’s Kabarett Kollektif

“Gina…commands attention because she is very intense and interesting and because she exemplifies an aspect of European cabaret rarely experienced in New York.”
– Barbara Leavy, Cabaret Scenes, March 2004

and MEET THE PRESS:

The following are all reviews of the same piece (Animal Farm):
“the music is a joy to listen to.”
“…goes up and down the scale like a scratching cat.”
“…does what the music should do: advances the mood of the performance without being obtrusive.”
“…the score is a great asset, mostly cool jazz…”

And my personal favourite:
“the music…is for the most part horrible beyond the ability of words to express, with the pseudo-Weillian, pseudo-Sonheimian, echt-Schoenbergian melodic lines of the songs so sour as to set one’s teeth on edge unto the third and fourth generation.”