Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Elegant Songs from a Handsome Woman: Ana Gasteyer at Feinstein's

A good cabaret act often includes a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Ballads. Anthems. Standards. Novelties. Anecdotes. Audience participation. Shtick. Piano player-performer repartee. Reminiscing. And so on. With the proper recipe, these bits add up to brilliance. Without the proper recipe, they can seem scattered and random and even dull.

Ana Gasteyer's recipe needs work.

This is not to say that she doesn't have her moments. Some of her stories are quite funny, and her tale of how she met her husband is sweet. She's strong with novelty songs such as "Proper Cup of Coffee," and her choice of songs is interesting and unusual, including "Titwillow," an updated version of "I'm Hip" (with lyrics such as "James Franco is my Facebook Friend"), "The Book of Love," Chuck E's in Love," "Slap That Bass," and "Valley of the Dolls." She uses the mike well (a rarity in younger performers) and makes sure to play to everyone in the room. She is extremely likeable.

But . . .

Her voice is surprisingly thin for someone who played Elphaba in Wicked. Her interpretations have a sameness to them. Some of her stories drag on too long. Most importantly, despite hard preparation, good will, and the expenditure of a great deal of energy, she lacks that spark that makes an evening shine. Rather than a glorious meal, she presents a few good dishes.

(press ticket, nice seats to audience left)

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