Tuesday, March 27, 2012

cabaret review CHRISTINE EBERSOLE, McCarter Theatre, March 17

An "End of the World" party might not be how most people would want to spend a Saturday night but with Christine Ebersole as your host, you'd better sit back, relax and enjoy what she has in store for you.  Two time Tony winner Ebersole is as equally known for her cabaret career as she is for her Broadway acting and singing.  Her concert in Princeton was another one of her typical, successful multi dimensional fun filled evenings.

Christine was accompanied by a lovely jazz quintet led by her musical director John Oddo.  The evening featured many standards delivered in a lively fashion.  Christine is known for her humor and clear soprano voice and her comic abilities were showcased in not only several funny patter bits between some of the songs but also in a humorous pre show speech.

"Strike Up The Band" was a highly energetic opening that showcased Christine's vocal abilities as well as the talents of her quintet.  "Paper Moon" was another highlight that perfectly blended a lovely jazz arrangement for the band with Christine's voice.  "Get Thee Behind Me Satan" also let Christine's clear vocals shine through but in a nice slowed down delivery.  Kurt Weill's "That's Him" is a funny song that has a touching message and the kind of song that perfectly combines Christine's comic and vocal abilities.

"What's Going To Happen to the Tots?" is a funny Noel Coward song that fits perfectly not only with Christine's voice but also her dry humor.  Her recording of several Noel Coward songs was one of my favorite CDs of last year.  (My review of that cd can be found here.)  "Johnny One Note" provided a chance for Christine to really show off her brassy voice.  A very funny story about Christine's early days in  New York City proceeded a stunning version of "42nd Street".

A lovey story about her three adopted children led into an excellent arrangement of "Right as the Rain" that gave Christine another chance to show off her clear delivery.  This was followed by a story about Christine's husband and a touching take on "I Loves You Porgy" that segued into an intense "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" that ended with an extremely moving take on the gospel standard "I'll Fly Away."  Christine ended her show with a rousing version of the Cole Porter classic "Blow Gabriel Blow" and then came back for a trio of encores that included an updated version of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" as well as a nicely stated version of "Pennies From Heaven."

As great as Christine is and this show was, the only downside is that maybe having a better introduction as to why Christine decided to make this an "end of the world" celebration would have set the concert off in a better direction.  Instead she seemed to be explaining too late in the show her point of why she had chosen this theme for the evening.  But no matter what, Christine Ebersole is one of the best cabaret performers out there so if you happen to get the chance to see her in concert don't pass it up.

Christine sings "The Sage of Jenny" -

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