By William Wolf

ANITA GILLETTE'S TRIBUTE TO IRVING BERLIN  Send This Review to a Friend

There are many reasons to wish Irving Berlin were still with us. But as I watched Anita Gillette perform her show titled “Me and Mr. B,” I couldn’t help thinking how much he would have enjoyed this warm, lively and fun-filled tribute to his great talent channeled so effectively by Gillette, who had a long-friendship with Berlin and talked about it between the numbers she did in her new show at Birdland last night (March 25).

Gillette repeats her performance tonight at 7 p.m.

What comes through so vibrantly is Gillette’s show biz experience. She is an actress as well as a superb singer with a long list of Broadway. television and film credits, and she displays a naturalness with her audience (no doubt backed by intense preparation), so that her performance of an hour and a half seems like an intimate party. If she happens to forget the order of a song, it is of no consequence, as Paul Greenwood, her expert pianist and music director, can cue her while she makes the most of the informality she projects.

Directed by Barry Kleinbort, this is a thoroughly pro affair, exemplified by the smoothness of Gillette’s integration with Greenwood, Ritt Henn on bass, and Dan Gross on drums. As a special attraction and one of the show’s highlights, David L. Harris on trombone teamed with Gillette on superb renditions of “Mr. Monotony” and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” The combination was ultra smooth and musically enticing.

Gillette pointed out that Berlin wrote 1,499 songs. How to choose? She did an excellent job picking out numbers reflecting the variety in his work. Her opening combination of “No Strings” and “The Sun in the Morning and the Moon at Night” set the tone. She did an exotic interpretation of “Blue Skies,” with the band joining in vocally.

She can easily switch to the amusing, saucy “If You Don’t Like My Peaches” and finds hilarity in being made nervous by “The Secret Service.” Gillette appeared on Broadway in Berlin’s “Mr. President,” from which she sang “It Gets Lonely in the White House.” Another of her choices, “They Say It’s Wonderful,” was sung with delicacy and charm.

Gillette has often teamed with Penny Fuller, whom she summoned to the stage to join her in a rousing “Pack Up Your Sins and Go to the Devil.” Fuller is a superb actress-singer and they are always fun together.

Gillette evoked a very romantic feeling with “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” and she projected Berlin’s ray of hope in her encore number “It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow.” Finally, she referenced Berlin’s place in the lore of our country by singing his “God Bless America.”

In addition to her excellent voice and deeply felt interpretations of the Berlin songs, she provided anecdotes about their friendly meetings, and how Berlin’s secretary would summon her saying that Berlin is longing to talk with her. It is easy to imagine how Gillette, with her effervescent personality, sense of humor and knowledge of the Broadway scene would have amused him.

What comes across so entertainingly in “Me and Mr. B.” is the warmth and reference she feels for his repertoire. There is not a smidgen of exploitation in her honoring him. The sincerity comes through captivatingly, and it is a thorough delight to take this trip down memory lane with the ultra-accomplished, very likable Gillette. At Birdland, 315 West 44th Street, Phone: 212-581-3080. Reviewed March 26, 2018.

BARBARA LOWIN GOES BRITISH WITH HER ENTERTAINING NEW CABARET SHOW  Send This Review to a Friend

With her new “Written iin Britain” show unveiled at don’t tell mama, Barbara Lowin charmed with an elegant mix of songs from across the pond that enabled her to revel in humor ranging from sophisticated to broad, yet also be moving with serious songs of love and commemoration. She was especially engaging with a sense of fun in this show, which also gave a chance for her long-time artistic director and superb pianist, Paul Greenwood, to amusingly add his excellent voice to some of the numbers.

Lowin began by looking down on the demeaned British policy decision with a name that she would not stoop to say, and decided that Britain could use a friendly pat on the back—hence this musical adventure. A smart intro. Later, she had a great time waving a British flag that she had acquired for the occasion.

At one point Lowin recalled having been a child radio star while growing up in Toronto until she was too to continue--background applicable to her two fairy numbers, one “There Are Fairies at the Bottom of Our Garden” by Liza Lehmann and Rose Fylemann, and the other more pertinent and hilarious “Nobody Loves a Fairy When She’s Forty” by Arthur Le Clerq. To amusingly get into the spirit of the aging lament, she donned what passed for fairy wings.

Lowin quickly contrasted the foregoing with the melancholy World War I poem “In Flanders Fields” by Lt. Col. John McCrae and the World War I romantic favorite “The Roses of Picardy” by Frederic Weatherly and Haydn Wood.”

Lowin opened her far-ranging program, directed by Scott Barnes, with “Big Best Shoes” by Sandy Wilson from “Valmouth,” followed by “Who Will Buy?” by Anthony Newly and Leslie Bricusse from “The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd,” and then “Feelin’ Good” by Lionel Bart from “Oliver.”

Lowin excelled with vocal and lyric interpretation in performing “If Music Be the Food of Love” by Henry Purcell, “We Gather Lilacs in the Spring Again” by Ivor Novello, “The Very Thought of You” by Ray Noble and “Every Breath You Take” by Sting. There was, of course, the British 1960s era, which Lowin referenced especially with “And I Love Him” and “Something” by Paul McCartney and George Harrison, plus a 1960s medley.

One of the funniest numbers in the Monty Python “Spamalot” is “The Song That Goes Like This,” and Lowin and Greenwood raised hell with that one. Earlier there was fun with the John W. Bratton-Jimmy Kennedy “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.”

But Lowin brought a lovely conclusion to the pre-encore program with a reminder of the emotional songs that Charlie Chaplin composed, an accomplishment often forgotten in the light of his comic acting and filmic genius. His best known is “Smile,” which Lowin sang exquisitely. She also infused sensitivity into Chaplin’s “This is My Song,” and “I’ll Be Loving You, Eternally.”

Have you noticed anything missing? What would a show about British songs be without Noël Coward? The gap was filled uproariously with Lowin’s encore number “Countess Mizzi” from Coward’s “Operette,” with extra amusement also provided by Lowin’s introduction to the piece.

Lowin performs her show again on Wednesday, March 14, at 7 p.m. At don’t tell mama, 343 West 46th Street, Phone: 212-757-0788. Reviewed March 12, 2018.

ADRIENNE HAAN DELIVERS HER OWN STORM WITH CABARET FRANÇAIS 2  Send This Review to a Friend

Finding good cheer on a lousy snowy night in Manhattan was not easy. And then along came exuberant international chanteuse Adrienne Haan and her “Cabaret Français 2” show, a sequel to her delightful previous venture into French chansons, to light up the Triad last night (March 7) for a large audience who braved the weather to hear this always remarkable performer. The minute she took the stage thoughts of what was going on outside were obliterated by the force of her personality and spirited singing.

The substantial audience would have been even larger had there not been cancellations by those from the suburbs who found getting into the city tough. But we New Yorkers don’t let the weather stop us.

The reward was great. Haan was a sight to behold as she turned up wearing black silk pants and a top that the French call a corsage, this one in gold, black and blue, which Haan noted afterward “is in the colors of Louis XIV, the Sun King.” Haan certainly has the figure for the bare-shoulder outfit.

Much of her repertoire this time around consisted of lesser known chansons, although she opened with well-known favorites--Edith Piaf’s “Padam Padam” “La vie en rose” and “L’accordéoniste.”

Haan, who has an impressive voice, loves to dramatize her numbers with elaborate expressions and gestures, even at one point dropping to her knees (shades of Al Jolson). She obviously feels the lyrics deeply, and she makes a point of linking songs to her family background, which includes ties to Luxembourg and Germany. She told how she was very close to her grandmother who loved French songs and profoundly influenced her.

Haan is fond of singing works by Jacques Brel, as in “La Chanson des vieux amants” and of Kurt Weill as in ”Je ne l’aime pas.” She also sang French Canadian pop-singer Isabelle Boulay’s beautiful “Nos rivières” and Charles Aznavour’s “La Bohème.”

She explored the songs of Patricia Kaas, French contemporary jazz-pop singer, including a medley of her work, and her “Kennedy Rose.” Haan also did a “Paris Medley” of songs by Walter Jurmann, an Austrian composer who, because he was Jewish, spent time in exile in Paris during the 1930s.

Haan enjoys chatting with her audience, as when she noted her interest in the assassination of President Kennedy and how when she visited Dallas, Texas, she made a point of seeing where the murder took place. She indicated that she had kept up with various theories about the shooting.

Ever effervescent, Haan has the knack of stimulating audience participation in some of her numbers, as she did with Edith Piaf’s “Milord,” her closing number. The arrangements for her program were excellent, and she paid tribute to pianist Richard Danley, noting that this was the 15th anniversary of her working with him as her musical director. At the Triad, 158 West 72nd Street. Phone: 212-362-2590. Reviewed March 8, 2018.

RICHARD HOLBROOK'S HOLIDAY GREETING AND MORE  Send This Review to a Friend

A charming, talented singer with a desire to please, cabaret artist Richard Holbrook has brought his “The Many Moods of Christmas” show to Don’t Tell Mama, which I caught last night (November 26). Holbrook presents a seasonal program, not just Christmas staples, and even injects some satire into his repertoire.

At the outset Holbrook establishes his tone and approach with a medley built upon “I Happen to Like New York.” He has a very youthful looking face, and his delivery oozes enthusiasm and sincerity. He gets profoundly into his selections, and the lyrics are always crispy-clear, with their meaning coming through sharply.

In short, Holbrook is very likable and very accomplished, which becomes apparent to his audience as in good voice he entertainingly ranges through broad territory. Occasionally he weaves in autobiographical notes that help you get to know him.

His “Silver Bells” and “Colored Lights” are especialy effective, and so is “Glow Worm.” One of my favorites turned out to be the schizophrenic “Confessions of a New Yorker (Hate-Love New York)," a witty assembly of pros and cons, but adding up to a love affair with the city.

Holbrook plunges into jazz with “Cool Yule,” with music and lyrics by Steve Allen and additional lyrics by Eric Kornfeld. The funniest song is the witty “The Twelve Days After Christmas,” a parody with words and music by Frederick Silver, which Holbrook performs with delight.

Overall, Holbrook provides a generous helping of expertly sung selections that make for an enjoyable cabaret experience. At the end he gets more into the yuletide spirit with his wish to all, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Excellent musical backing is provided by the Tom Nelson Trio, with Nelson, Holbrook’s musical director, at the piano, Tom Kirschmer on bass and Peter Grant on drums. You can catch Holbrook during December—Dec. 3 at 8:30 p.m., Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 17 at 8:30 p.m. At Don’t Tell Mama, 313 West 46th Street. Phone: 212-757-0788. Reviewed November 27, 2017.

ISRAELI SINGER ISAAC SUTTON FINDS A NEW YORK AUDIENCE  Send This Review to a Friend

Sporting a flashy appeal and a Vegas-type singing style, Isaac Sutton had a full house at Feinstein’s/54 Below on Saturday night (Oct. 21). Sharply dressed, he enthusiastically pitched his personality and talent to the audience, sometimes extending a one-on-one welcome to ringsiders.

He started with “Come Fly With Me” to set his tone of matching Las Vegas with New York, and delivered a lively program that showed off a strong voice and a Sinatra-style repertoire.

Sutton also sings fluently when handling lyrics in Hebrew, and is comfortable in French and Italian as well, giving off international vibes. He has performed in concerts in his home country and elsewhere, and also acted in musical comedy, including, as he pointed out, starring as Bobby in a production of “Company” in Israel.

Sutton’s repertoire offered Saturday included a Sinatra medley, and also, switching to a Dean Martin salute, “That’s Amore.” For example, “Popular,” and “Volare” were among his other choices. Demonstrating a more poignant side, he sang a “Fiddler on the Roof” medley. His “Non, je ne regrette rien” revealed his talent interpreting a French chanson.

A highlight was sharing the platform with his guest performer, Carrie St. Louis, who is a bundle of Broadway-style pizzazz. They obviously had fun singing together with the one-upmanship number “Anything You Can Do.” St. Louis’s fine voice soars to the high notes when needed.

Audience applause elicited two encore numbers, “Hallelujah” and “Mambo Italiano.” Sutton at one point walked among the tables to get closer to the crowd.

The singer’s talented musical group included Dan Pardo, pianist and musical director, Greg Orlando on double bass and Zachary Eldridge on drums. At Feinstein’s/54 Below, 254 West 54th Street. Reviewed October 23, 2017.

SEDUCTIVE SONGS BY GEORGE GERSHWIN ENLIVEN NIGHT TWO OF 28TH NEW YORK CABARET CONVENTION  Send This Review to a Friend

Put the seductive songs by the prolific George Gershwin together with talented performers and how can you go wrong? Evidence of the sublime combination was entertainingly apparent on the second night of this year’s New York Cabaret Convention (October 17) titled “S’Wonderful: The Music of George Gershwin.” An appealing array of expertise smoothly presented kept the program flowing at a merry pace.

Co-hosts for the evening at Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, were Andrea Marcovicci and Jeff Harnar, who also performed. They didn’t have to say all that much, as the format had each performer introducing the one to follow, which helped keep things moving at a good clip.

I inevitably had my favorites. One of the most original entertainers working today is violinist and humorist Aaron Weinstein. Sardonically recounting his personal contacts with Gershwin (long before Weinstein was born), he spun a narrative in an avalanche of double talk that earned him applause, then showing his talent on the violin, launched into a fabulous arrangement and riff playing “Somebody Loves Me.”

I get great pleasure every time I hear the combined talents of Eric Comstock and his wife Barbara Fasano. On this occasion Comstock excelled at the piano with “Who Cares?” and “Things Are Looking Up,” and Fasano gave an absolutely exquisite rendition of “Love Walked In.”

Anna Bergman is gifted with a wonderful soprano voice, which she demonstrated yet again singing “By Strauss.” Karen Akers and Celia Berk revved up the fun with their duet “What Are We Here For” Then Akers, left to her own devices, injected fresh meaning into “How Long Has This been Going On?” with her mellow voice and sophisticated delivery.

Marcovicci and Harnar performed in both the first and second acts, initially teaming on “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.” Later, they sang ‘’S’Wonderful” together. Marcovicci soloed with “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “The Man I Love.” Harnar had further vocal input, singing “Treat Me Rough,” an amusing and unusual (for Gershwin) number laced with masochism. He teamed with Shauna Hicks on “I’ve Got Rhythm” and with her and James Followell at the piano for “Bidin’ My Time.”

Mark Nadler is a demon genius at the piano, and he brought a fiery close to the first act by sailing into “S’Wonderful” and “Rhapsody in Blue” with dazzling, complex virtuosity. He dependably creates a spellbinding effect, and wows an audience with his talent and commanding presence.

Jon Weber not only excels as an accompanist to various singers, but when given the spotlight, he can show his own talent, as he did with his solo “Piano Playin’ Jazzbo Brown.” Steve Ross, an institution in the world of cabaret, is another superb pianist and a congenial singer to boot. He entertained with his interpretation of “Stairway to Paradise.”

The sexiest performance of the evening was given by Marissa Mulder, who sauntered on stage in a tight fitting dress and in intimate, breathless tones invitingly sang “Do It Again.”

One surprise was the zany combination of British visitors Dominic Feress, also at the piano, and Martin Milnes, who proved that they could pack a medley of 30 Gershwin songs into six minutes of stage time. They were a laugh riot with their wacky routine.

Others on the program also merit applause for their assorted contributions, including Stearns Matthews, T. Oliver Reid, Deborah Silver, Nicolas King, Gabrielle Stravelli, and Jennifer Sheehan, the latter a discovery of Marcovicci when Sheehan was a teenager. She has matured beautifully as a performer, evidenced by her lovely renditions of “A Foggy Day” and “Love Walked In.”

Coming up: Tonight, Oct. 18th: “Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of Cabaret,” hosted by James Gavin and dedicated to Barbara Carroll, “The First Lady of the American Keyboard;” and tomorrow, Oct. 19th: “Two Marvelous for Words/Stardust, The Music of Hoagy Carmichael & Richard Whiting,” hosted by Klea Blackhurst.

Awards scheduled to be presented are The Margaret Whiting Award and the Julie Wilson Award. At Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Broadway and 60th Street. Tickets at the box office or through CenterCharge, 212-721-6500. Reviewed October 18, 2017.

CABARET CONVENTION 2017 GETS OFF TO ROUSING START  Send This Review to a Friend

There is a risk in starting a cabaret convention opening night with Marilyn Maye, introduced by KT Sullivan, host and Director of the Mabel Mercer Foundation, with an explanation of wanting to begin with a legend in honor of legendary Barbara Carroll, who died this past year. How do you successfully follow Maye, still a super-dynamic song interpreter and in powerful voice at the age of 89?

There she was, the opening act of the 28th consecutive New York Cabaret Convention (October 16-19) produced by the Mabel Mercer Foundation at the Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincon Center. Maye, terrific as usual, treated the appreciative audience to numbers that included “A Most Unusual Day,” “Day In, Day Out,” “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby," and “Come Rain or Come Shine.” She set a very high bar for the rest of the performers on the gala first night bill.

But the assembly of talent that followed proved to be worthy. Carole J. Bufford, for example, came through with an intimate, teasing version of “Chicago,” enhanced with some snappy flapper dance steps while Ian Herman soloed at the piano. Then she emotionally delivered her own brand of “The Man I Love.” KT Sullivan surprised her with the Donald F. Smith award, given in honor of the late founder of the Mercer Foundation. Smith, who inaugurated the annual Cabaret Convention, was a champion of cabaret as a vital art form.

In the comedy department, Adam Shapiro entertained singing “Bennies From Heaven,” about a soldier who has been away for years finding his wife with a kid named Benny and the explanation that he came from heaven. He also scored with “Bei Mir Bist Schoen.”

Statuesque Luba Mason, wearing a dazzling blue and white gown, sang a “Croation Folk Song” followed by a poignant rendition of “Love for Sale.” Alan Harris, expert with his accompanying guitar, presented an easy-going rendition of ‘It Was a Very Good Year.”

Karen Oberlin entertained with “Hamlet,” the kooky riff on Shakespeare, then grew serious with the combination of “Night and Day” and “The Night We Called It a Day.” KT also took her turn in the spotlight with “After You” “So in Love” and the lilting “Wunderbar.”

The closing spot went to Vivian Reed, after she was presented with the Mabel Mercer Award. In her signature style, she zoomed around the stage stomping and whooping it up as she regaled the crowd with “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and “Higher and Higher.”

Leading up to that strong finish were varied examples pf talent shown off in the packed program. The artists highlighted include Lyric Peterson, Danny Bacher, Corinna Sowers Adler, Joshua Lance Dixon, Tanya Moberly, Jacob Storm and Tommy J. Dose.

Coming up: Oct. 17th: “S’Wonderful: The Music of George Gershwin,” hosted by Jeff Harnar and Andrea Marcovicci; Oct. 18th: “Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of Cabaret,” hosted by james Gavin and dedicated to Barbara Carroll, “The First Lady of the American Keyboard;” Oct. 19th: “Two Marvelous for Words/Stardust, The Music of Hoagy Carmichael & Richard Whiting,” hosted by Klea Blackhurst.

Other awards scheduled to be presented are The Margaret Whiting Award and the Julie Wilson Award. At Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Broadway and 60th Street. Tickets at the box office or through CenterCharge, 212-721-6500. Reviewed October 17, 2017.

VARIETY SHOW TRADITION HONORED AT FRIARS CLUB  Send This Review to a Friend

The long tradition of variety shows was affectionately recalled in a program of entertainment at the Friars Club last night (May 17, 3017). Produced by Robin Lane, the show presented in the Milton Berle Room at the club featured comedy, song, music and even a magician, the sort of bill that once typified vaudeville.

The tone was set by Mike Fine as MC, who in his wry comedy style twitted the audience, which he teasingly said was the star of the evening. He playfully joked about those he introduced, and unleashed some gags of his own. Example “A woman asked me to make love to her in the worst way. That’s the only way I know how.”

The “headliner” topping the bill was comic Bob Greenberg, who has a gift for certain impersonations. Portly, he got a laugh saying he resembled New Jersey Governor Christie, which he does. He did a dead-on, very funny impression of Curly of the Three Stooges. He also gave a convincing impression of Alfred Hitchcock, another of Lou Costello and one of Oliver Hardy.

I have reviewed Shana Farr in various venues, and once again, in this setting, she sang luminously, giving meaning to “Moon River” and the Noël Coward song “If Love Were All.” She had fun with a sexy delivery of “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” As usual, Farr looked great, this time wearing a colorful form-fitting gown.

Danny Bacher combined singing with his instrumental skill. For example, he smoothly sang “I’m Lucky to Be Me,” and entertained playing his soprano sax. Bacher is excellent with his jazz riffs on the instrument, from which he elicits sounds ranging from mellow to complex.

From the easy conversation by Mike Maione when he took the stage, you wouldn’t think he could do magic tricks. But after some humorous comments as he connected with this audience, he did some puzzling bits of magic. The most interesting one consisted of his “socks sorter box”, from which he drew assorted socks, which he strung on a line. He called up a helper from the audience, who placed the socks in a bag. Then presto, she randomly withdrew two socks, and it turned out that when Maione pulled up his trousers he was wearing a match for each sock she selected. You might dub the trick socko.

There was an easy-going ambience in the room for the event, which was preceded by a dinner. Being in the Milton Berle Room made me think of a news item this week reporting a lawsuit by a comedian who claimed that his jokes were stolen. Given that Berle was jokingly known as “the thief of bad gags,” I wondered what he would have thought about the case. At the Friars Club, 57 East 55th Street. Reviewed May 18, 2017.

CHRISTINA BIANCO AS HERSELF AND HER IMPERSONATION TARGETS AT BIRDLAND  Send This Review to a Friend

I have seen the immensely talented Christina Bianco do acts in variety shows, and I enjoyed her as the lead in a play. But I have never seen her do a whole cabaret show, a deficiency remedied April 3 at New York’s attractive and important jazz club Birdland. My admiration for her soared even higher. Bianco was absolutely terrific.

Although she wows an audience with her uncanny ability to imitate a wide range of singers, as the thousands who have seen her on YouTube know, what I also appreciated was how vibrant and likable she is holding the stage as a personable entertainer.

Bianco is the real deal. She is a bundle of fun and joy, with enthusiasm that strikes a chord with an audience. From the minute she took the stage, backed by a five-piece band, she was dynamite. She kidded herself singing “Short People,” bemoaning what it is like to be short (4’11”). Later in the show, after regaling us with her impressions, she showed how appealing she can be as herself when she sang “Down With Love.” It is important to recognize that even if she dropped her impersonations, Bianco could win us over in her own right.

But who would want her to do that? She is a marvel of precision as she sings in the manner of Barbra Streisand, Julie Andrews, Whitney Houston, Gwen Stefani, Celine Dión, Christina Aguilera, Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters, and others whom she perfectly nails.

One of my favorites in her act stemmed from her game of having people call out songs and then the name of someone whose style would be applied. One suggested Madonna’s “Material Girl,” and then as the singer to interpret that song, the name of Edith Piaf rang through the room. When Bianco proceeded to sing as Piaf doing “Material Girl,” the result was spectacular.

She also did a range of impressions from television shows, and most appealingly she did her bit reading from Barbra Streisand’s book about designing her home. Perfectly imitating Streisand’s voice and speech manner, Bianco hilariously captured the pretentiousness of the passages she read,

Much, much more was packed into her effervescent 90-minute show. And yes, she concluded it with her famous YouTube medley of singing voices that can leave one flabbergasted at her vocal rage, sharp ear for performer nuances and amusing facial expressions to go with the lyrics. All of this was cleverly packaged to flow smoothly, further evidence of what a savvy and accomplished entertainer Bianco has become. At Birdland, 315 West 44th Street. Phone: 212-581-3080. Reviewed April 5, 2017,

ADRIENNE HAAN ROCKS WITH FRENCH CHANSONS  Send This Review to a Friend

International chanteuse Adrienne Haan likes to try something different and has the skill for such explorations. As she explained to her Metropolitan Room audience last night (March 28), she grew up loving the classic French chansons, which have a place in her much-praised performance repertoire. But she also grew up during the age of rock, which she liked too. So it occurred to her to try merging both, something she says that to the best of her knowledge nobody else has done.

The result is her new “Rock Le Cabaret!” show, which I viewed last night. Here’s how it works: She takes songs like the traditional “Padam Padam” and “La Vie en Rose” and gives them a rock interpretation, enhanced resoundingly in arrangements played by a talented musical group consisting of Karen Dryer, musical director and pianist, Mike Campenni on drums, Adam Kabak on electric bass, Branden Palmer on electric guitar and Kyle Schweizer on tenor sax, flute and keyboards.

Mighty rock crescendos filled the room as Haan applied her strong voice, sometimes in competition with the power of the excellent band. Haan fulfilled her goal of merging the elements with resounding success in the context what she was attempting.

Will it please every taste? That depends on one’s affection for rock. Those who favor it should get a kick at what Haan has accomplished. As usual, she is a polished performer who dominates a stage and communicates intimately with her audience. As I have said before, I consider her one of the best of contemporary cabaret artists.

Unlike Haan, I did not grow up in the age of enthusiasm for rock. I’m more of a traditionalist. When she sang Jacques Brel’s “Le Port D’Amsterdam” in a more customary way at first, it was greatly to my liking and an example of what Haan usually does with such material. However, that was not the point of the evening.

Haan, dressed more like a rocker than in the sophisticated outfits she usually wears, impressively built her concept to the fullest and succeeded in involving the audience to the point of getting people on their feet and clapping to the rhythm. Her selections included, among others, “Milord,” “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” “Sous Le Ciel de Paris,” “La Bohème,” “La Chanson Des Vieux Amants,” and for her encore a rousing, rock “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.”

She definitely achieved her designed heights in this inventive, exploratory merger. Let’s just say the joint rocked. (Haan returns to the Metropolitan Room on May 3 for her tribute to the great American songbook.) At the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street. Phone: 212-206-0440. Reviewed March 29, 2017.

  

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