Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day

On one hand, the sweetly odd and completely delightful jazz singer Nellie McKay comes across as a combination of, oh, Cyndi Lauper, Steve Martin, Gracie Burns, and Diana Krall, with a soup├žon of Ella Fitzergerald thrown in. On the other hand, she is like nobody else, sui generis. In Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day, at Feinstein's at the Loews Regency, McKay uses a variety of voices, including sweet and thin, Ella-esque, and 1930's vibrato-laden soprano--all perfectly matched to the material. Her song list, while mainly focused on pieces sung by Doris Day, travels hither and yon, including "Mother of Pearl," her ironic contribution to the argument as to whether feminists have senses of humor. McKay plays piano and ukulele and is backed by a fabulous band (Kenny Davis on bass, Ben Bynum on drums, Belinda Whitney on violin, Glenn Drewes on trumpet, and Jay Berliner on guitar). Highlights for me included an energetic "A-Tisket, A Tasket"; a tender "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans"; an appropriately crazy "Crazy Rhythm"; and a poignant version of "Georgy Girl," accompanied by ukulele and dedicated to Lynn Redgrave. Her patter comes across as stream of consciousness, and an entertaining consciousness it is. Added bonus: in honor of the title of the show, the audience receives yummy blueberry tarts. (Tickets max out at $75 with a $40 minimum, but select $40 seats with no minimum are often available.)

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