Sunday, March 20, 2011

cabaret review Tyne Daly - in cabaret at NJPAC, Saturday March 19

Tyne Daly is probably most well known for her Emmy winning role in Cagney and Lacey, but theatre audiences over the age of 40 will most likely mention her bravura turn as "Rose" in the 1989 revival of Gypsy.  Even though Daly was most identified with playing "Mary Beth Lacey", having won four Emmy's for her work, I'm sure back in 1989 many theatre goers were a little shocked to hear that she would be headlining a Gypsy revival.  But, her performance in that revival was something that I'll never forget.  I saw her twice in the show and was so impressed with her ability to be sexy, forceful, sweet and a monster all at the same time that I always measure all other productions of this show against that excellent revival with Daly.  And, while she wasn't in the greatest voice when the cast album of that production was made - you can see from the youtube clip below that she was a fierce "Rose".

While she hasn't been seen back on Broadway in a musical since her "Rose," she has appeared in concert productions of Call Me Madam and On The Town as well as a west coast production of Ballroom, that went back to the title it was based on - Queen of the Stardust Ballroom.   Daly has also been in several other Broadway dramas, most notably Rabbit Hole, playing Cynthia Nixon's mother in that play.

So, "Tyne Daly in cabaret" - not exactly something you'd think people would be rushing to, however Daly has appeared twice at the cabaret club Feinstein's at the Regency.  She combined elements from both of those shows into "Songs," the show she brought to the New Jersey Performing Art Center's Chase Room for two shows last night.

Now, I've seen a lot of people in the nightclub atmosphere that a cabaret setting provides, obviously some are better than others, and even though Daly is not the most accomplished singer, she is by far toward the top of the list of people who know how to do "cabaret."   She knows that you need to give people an assortment of material, both familiar and lesser known while also providing enough patter between the songs that is somewhat personal but also touches upon familiar themes that connect the audience to the performer.   Daly is funny, personable, serious and down to earth, all adjectives that put one toward the top of the cabaret performer pyramid.   Her voice is brassy and clear, only faltering a little when she has to hold a note, but it never gets in the way of the overall enjoyment she is able to bring to the audience, which was SRO at the show I attended.

Also, ever since seeing Barbara Cook in concert about 10 years ago I pretty much compare every singer to her -she knows how to connect to the lyrics in every song she sings - something that so few people are able to do.  It makes you hear the songs in a way you've never heard them before.  Last night, Tyne Daly came very close to what Barbara is able to accomplish and it made me realize that by being an accomplished actor first before being identified as a singer, it makes them able to connect to the song and interpret it for us, the listeners, just the way they know how to speak and act the lines in a play.

Some highlights from her show - a rewritten version of "Hostess with the Mostess" opened the show- with personalized lyrics by Daly herself, a medley of "time" songs, including "Time After Time" and a Rudy Vallee song "My Time is Your Time"  blended well together and allowed Daly to speak about the jokes she gets about her first name, replacing "Time" with "Tyne."  A slowed down version of "Oh Boy," the Buddy Holly hit, was a personal favorite, providing new incite into the lyrics of what I always thought was a throw away pop song,  as well as a perfectly delivered performance of "A Real Emotional Girl" by Randy Newman.  After a series of upbeat, humorous songs, the Bessie Smith number, "Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair" allowed Daly to get dark and deep. Tyne talked about her connection to Jule Styne and gave a beautiful reading of a lesser known Styne and Carolyn Leigh song "Killing Time."  As she commented, "all things lead to Broadway," which provided a nice section of more theatrical material toward the end of her show.  She spoke about her fascination with "Peter Pan" and sang a rousing "Captain Hook's Waltz" that was followed by a pirate tale of a much darker nature, a perfectly delivered and acted "Pirate Jenny."  Her nuanced, driving and emotional delivery of a medley of three songs from the flop Jerry Herman musical Dear World proved that City Center Encores needs to put that show on their schedule and cast Daly in the lead asap.

Daly is coming back to Broadway this May in Master Class but if you ever get the chance to see her perform in cabaret, don't miss it.

Tyne Daly- Rose's Turn

Tyne Daly- "Dear World' medley -

Amazon link for the Gypsy Cast recording - Gypsy (1989 New York Revival)

Manhattan Theatre club site for Master Class info

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