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Velvet Determination

Written and Performed by Cynthia Shaw

Cynthia Velvet with notes (use).jpg

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

"...moving, inspiring, funny..."

"Your timing was terrific!"

"You were radiant."

"...honest, expressive,


"A lot of emotional range."

Photo Credit:  Michael Bernstein
"Best Festival Debut"
United Solo Festival
"Best Theatre
Galway Fringe, 2019
"Best Personal
Boulder Fringe, 2019
"Best Solo Show"
Pittsburgh Fringe

Cynthia enjoyed her cheerful Colorado childhood of playing the piano and making music.  All it took was picking up a random New Yorker magazine in her pediatrician’s office to awaken her artistic soul leading her to New York City and its esteemed Manhattan School of Music.  


This journey proves to be a bit more difficult than she innocently expected when she realizes New York City is very different than her hometown, Pueblo Colorado.  As she struggles with her self-sabotaging demons, shaky memorization, insufficient technique and the fear that no one truly wants to listen to her play, she masters determination and resilience. She endures music-hating neighbors, flamboyant teachers, and a falling piano. . But she ultimately finds her place in the world when she overcomes obstacles that confront this naive, wide-eyed young classical pianist who tackles the Big Apple!  

In this autobiographical show, Cynthia relates the youthful determination of her younger self as she meets the many idiosyncratic characters who either inspired, helped or hindered her journey.  She thrills her audience with musical impersonations of world-famous classical pianists as she remembers hearing them at the legendary Carnegie Hall.  AND...she beautifully demonstrates her own musical sensitivity and formidable technique performing live classical piano music, featuring Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Debussy and Schubert. 


New York City Review

James Bartholomew of 'All About Solo

"How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. But if you asked Cynthia Shaw, she’d probably

tell you something else. She’d say it takes determination…as she discovers what it takes

to become a professional pianist in the Big Apple.

Of course, determination is nothing without good obstacles to overcome, and Shaw’s story has plenty.  The emotional heavy lifting comes from Shaw’s lovely performance, not just as her younger self, but also as a rogues’ gallery of side characters she meets on her journey. Whether playing pretentious urban socialites, Salvation Army majors, or chattering old women on the crosstown bus, Shaw gives each of her characters a charming and often humorous flair that always sells the scene. Even her villains have a charismatic allure that keeps you smiling and wanting more.

…the biggest sell…is Shaw’s excellent piano playing, which accompanies the piece. The emphasis on music makes “Velvet Determination” a showcase for Shaw’s evolution as a pianist told in the medium of music, rather than just a linear narrative of her history moving to New York. In isolation, the nuts and bolts of the show’s plot are humorous and charming, but light on substance. Paired with Shaw’s beautiful playing and knack for whimsical storytelling, however, the play is a delight. If you’re looking for an uplifting affirmation of the rewards of hard work, look no further than “Velvet Determination.” 

Read the entire review HERE

All About Solo
July 9-16, 2019
"When Cynthia Shaw sits down at the piano and casually busts out Bach's Allegro from Italian Concerto, you know Velvet Determination  is not your average Fringe show....the story is impactful...Shaw's tenacity in moving forward after failure is inspiring."
Hilary Sutton, review, DC Metro Theater
PittsburghFringeLogoBlueon Clear.png
August 15-24, 2019
"Cynthia is SO talented." "Where else can you get a great story about determination, resilience and following your dream?...listening to Cynthia’s fabulous skills at the piano shows the rewards in her journey." "...If you have been told "you are not good enough" you will really resonate with this show".
Audience members' responses
"Colorado local...Cynthia...displays a sweet on-stage innocence as she spins her tale through piano, song and storytelling.  I left her show asking the question, 'Do we succeed because of our demons, or despite them?"  
Sara Sahara, Boulder Fringe Reviewer
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July 22-28, 2019
"Great show.  Highly recommended...Excellent show combining great acting with many very short piano recitals. A great enthralling story based on true events." 
Paul Campbell, audience member
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