Velvet Determination

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An award-winning solo show

A musical journey about wrong notes, hard knocks, and the keys to success.

Written, performed and produced by Cynthia Shaw

Directed by Peter Michael Marino

Rochester Fringe Festival

The Spirit Room at the Elephant Bar Room

139 State Street

Rochester, NY. 14613

September 13 & 14 @ 6pm

September 15 & 16 @ 5pm



Reykjavík, Iceland

Reykjavík Fringe Festival

June 27 & 28, 2022

New York City

59 E 59 Street Theaters

"East to Edinburgh" Festival

July 20, 21 & 22 

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

August 5-27

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The Reviews are in!

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"Shaw is an engaging presence onstage, as she plays for us. She wows us with a fiendish piece of Brahms, an audition piece for the Manhattan School [of Music]. This is a show built for classical music fans – it is stuffed full of goodies from Beethoven to Brahms. But behind the pyrotechnics, there is real psychological insight at work. Shaw’s enigmatic father, and his coolness towards his family, means he is frustratingly out of reach and unaccountable."

Helen Tope,  14 August 2022

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"The light-hearted hour is thoroughly Shaw handily weaves the story and musical excerpts into an engaging program. She is charming and relatable. There are moments of humour mixed with sadness, as we are silently cheering for Shaw to achieve her dream. "

Patricia Silver, 9 August 2022

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"Dialogue and music are combined excellently and equally without either outshining the other.  I left feeling uplifted, inspired and with the strong urge to play some piano. This show deserves a big audience!" 

Dylan Mooney, 16 August 2022  Read Full Review

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"Warm & wholehearted, @CynthiaSings 

entwines her musician's memoir with delightful, effortlessly played classical pieces. Simple staging— a lone keyboard— focuses the drama, centering characters, struggles & self-doubts on an inspirational road to success."

4/5 August 25 2022 

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"What elevates Shaw’s show above many of her contemporaries doing the same thing is that, as well as being a rigorous and personable storyteller, she’s also an extremely talented pianist.  Nicolson Square is a world away, but she fills it with story and music, playing classical excerpts alongside her own tale of growing up.  Shaw’s formative years were in the 1970s, and her description of New York is...a place and time of great personal and musical growth for her. Her story is as melodic as the music she plays."  David Pollock,

August 27 2022 Read Full Review

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"This is a sweet show...the keyboard is centre stage. Cynthia’s story is interspersed with and accompanied by her piano performance. She’s a skillful pianist and...deftly charts her own growing confidence as a musician and simultaneously manages to land a good amount of information about the challenges inherent in playing the piano. Shaw brings a self-effacing charm to her story-telling, talking with touching honesty about being beset by doubts, even as her talent is acknowledged and recognised over again. She has an astute eye for detail.  Cynthia fulfills her dream – though at what cost? ...this is a fun, informative and interesting fifty minute window into an incredibly talented artist’s development as a performer – with live piano music on the side: a wee Fringe treat."

Claire Wood, 25 August 2022 

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I've been called Susan Sarandon's brunette sister.  I'll take that!