Wednesday, March 16, 2011

An Evening of Story and Song (Shirley Jones at Feinstein's)

Shirley Jones's act at Feinstein's last night was a treat for her biggest fans, who laughed, cheered, stood, and even cried. For the rest of us, however, the news was not as good. Jones starts the evening with a video recapping her career. It's way too long, and the sound is often painfully bad. Worse, it diminishes rather than enhances her stature with too many mediocre songs, movies, and TV appearances. (Also included is a shot of her singing the national anthem at a republican convention, a jarring note for this particular liberal.) When finally she appears, Jones looks great. Then she starts singing. Her voice is shot, gone, ravaged. Her range has shrunk considerably, and many of the remaining notes are unpleasant. Of course, a great singing voice is not required for a successful nightclub act; many people mitigate their voice's limitations by developing their interpretive skills. Jones, unfortunately, is not one of them.  She does okay on the songs she is famous for--the nostalgia aspect improves her renditions of, for example, "Goodnight, My Someone" and "People Will Say We're in Love." However, her forays into jazz are unconvincing, and her "Send in the Clowns" is easily the worst I've ever heard. (Her piano player/musical director Ron Abel and bassist Mark Vanderpoel almost redeem a few numbers.) Jones does somewhat better with her patter, including some cute and interesting stories. However, she is a second-rate story teller. I want to reiterate that her major fans had a great time. For me, however, the evening felt like watching someone's aunt grab the mike at a bar mitzvah.

(Press tickets, table to the side, audience left.)

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