Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Second Time Around

The amazing Tyne Daly is appearing through January 30th at Feinstein's at Loews Regency in a cabaret act she has named The Second Time Around (although, interestingly, she does not sing the song of that name). She opens the evening with a cleverly self-referential rewrite of "The Hostess With the Mostes' on the Ball," then presents an unusual and satisfying array of songs, including a lovely a capella mid-13th-century air called "O Waly, Waly"; a poignant medley combining "Sonny Boy" and "Ain't No Sunshine"; a sweet and funny "Adelaide's Lament"; and a wonderful version of "Stardust" in French. Her voice is not the best in the world, but it is pleasing, and her acting, if not the best in the world, is in the top 1% of the top 1% of the top 1%. She seems incapable of doing anything false or phony; even her most potentially cliche moments--a joke about singing flat, a dramatic long pause--lose their "used" feeling because of her honesty, subtlety, and commitment. And her diction is perfect. Daly's soft-spoken patter is charming, and she has the wisdom to surround herself with a top-notch quintet (piano, cello, bass, winds, and drums). My favorite moments were her kick-ass bluesy rendition of "Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair" (lyrics by Bessie Smith), with wonderful work by the band, and her medley of three songs from the Jerry Herman musical Dear World. The latter had the feeling almost of an audition, and I hope that some producer or other or the people at Encores! make sure she gets to star in that show--she'd nail it and then some. (By the way, the generally expensive Feinstein's has instituted a limited-availability $40 ticket with no minimum, putting it in reach of a larger audience.)

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