Having immensely enjoyed the performance by Katie Bland in February (see under Cabaret “Katie Bland’s Fresh Spin on the Single Woman’s Quest for Love”), I was eager to see her reprise the show at the Duplex to see how it held up. The verdict: She is even more delightful, giving her act a few tweaks, but mainly exuding further confidence in dominating the stage and her receptive audience and showing heightened star power. She was booked in the Greenwich Village club December 14 and 19, 2013, and I caught the second date last night.
The title of the show remains “They’re in Love, Where Am I?” Bland builds hilarity and poignancy around the theme of looking for Mr. Right in New York with the odds stacked against her. She does it with a blend of songs—she has an excellent voice—and comments, all tapping into issues familiar to her audiences. The women know what it is like to get a painful pubic hair waxing to embrace the timely no-bush trend, and the men have their experiences being auditioned on dates for future possibilities. As Bland points out with comic exasperation, the proliferation of gay men in New York makes the single woman’s hunt all the more difficult.
Apart from the wit that glistens in her material, what makes Bland stand out from others who explore a similar topic is her nice-gal openness that thrives on humor rather than nastiness. She is very attractive, can say a lot with a single facial expression and appears to be having a wonderful time communicating her angst marked by self-discovery as well as discovering the foibles in men and womens’efforts at relationships. It is also a pleasure to see her interact with her audience by casually taking advantage of any comment or incident hurled her way.
The number “Moving On,” written by her pianist Andrew Sotomayor, stresses the importance of not staying in a rut but concentrating on the future. He has also written the lovely “I Wish I Missed You More” for her to sing. There’s an uproariously funny rendition of “All of My Friends” (by Drew Fornarola), lamenting that everyone is cheating on everyone, summarized by the lyric “All of my friends are whores.”
In the funny sketch about a couple in bed and pretending to be asleep, this time the man is played by special guest Chris Behmke.
In addition to a string of well-sung numbers of varying moods, this latest addition is climaxed freshly with a socko “Love is Bland Melody,” arranged by Sotomayor, the show’s director Lisa Moss and Bland, with even some Beatles music in the mix. Bland whips up an amusing frenzy of sexy body moves.
Seated at the shared table with my wife Lillian and me was a young couple visiting for just a few days from North Carolina. Not knowing what to expect, they were there as a result of seeing a promotion for the show and attending because they wanted to experience something different in New York. They had such a good time that by the end of the performance they rose to applaud in a standing ovation.
Their enthusiasm re-enforced my perception that Katie Bland can branch out as a widely popular entertainer if given the booking opportunities. She’s a delightfully fresh comic and romantic voice on the cabaret scene. At the Duplex, 61 Christopher Street. Reviewed December 19, 2013.