Little Death: Songs of Coming and Going, a daring and provocative musical performance exploring the erotic intersections between sex and death, debuted Off-Broadway at the Zipper Factory Theater on October 8, 2008 and ran to October 28. In the wake of high praise from critics and audiences alike, the show was extended from November 5 to 18, 2008.
Known for bridging distinctly different sensibilities and songbooks, Karen employed her skills as singer and actress to crossbreed a decadent range of theatrical and musical styles ~ everything from jazz, Delta blues and classical to rock-folk and cabaret. A succession of composers dated back as far as the 17th century with Henry Purcell, all the way to the present with Tom Waits and Jane Siberry. Karen’s other musical suitors included Jacques Brel, Leonard Cohen, Patrick Doyle, Astor Piazzola, Cole Porter, Franz Schubert, Kurt Weill, Freddie Mercury and Wesley “Sox” Wilson.
The original band featured music director Doug Oberhamer on piano, Sean Harkness on guitar, violinist Meg Okura, Scott Thornton on bass, and Dave Anthony on percussion. The show was directed John Richard Thompson; Doug Oberhamer and Tom Nazziola shared arranger credit.
Stephen Holden (The New York Times) wrote: “…as cosmopolitan a work of musical theater as I can remember. “Little Death” realizes the headiest ambitions of the cabaret art form….But it is Ms. Kohler’s exquisite taste in songs and her band’s ability to play them in any style leaves you open-mouthed with admiration.” Other critics chimed in: “A daring performance, highly original…her voice, a beautiful strong, clear instrument.” (Barbara Leavy, Cabaret Scenes) “A staggering range of music… purest aural ecstasy…the best band I’ve heard this year.” (David Noh, Gay City News)
Little Death received the 2009 BackStage Bistro Award for “Outstanding Theme Show,” “Musical Direction” and “Arrangements”.
Karen and her band presented New York audiences with a one-act version of the show at the Abrons Art Center in January 2009 and at Joe’s Pub in May 2009.