Bebe Neuwirth
(© Chris Calkins)
Bebe Neuwirth
(© Chris Calkins)
It's understandable that Bebe Neuwirth doesn't perform any songs from Chicago in her new show, Stories With Piano #3, at Feinstein's at Loews Regency. The veteran actress/dancer has no doubt performed such numbers as "All That Jazz" and "Nowadays" so often that she must go on automatic pilot.

Not that she doesn't explore a lot of familiar territory during the evening, which reprises much of the material from her 2008 Stories With Piano show at the same venue, as well as several Brecht-Weill numbers from her acclaimed 2004 off-Broadway revue Here Lies Jenny.

Still striking and lithe at age 52 -- not only does she freely admit her age, she even does the math for us -- Neuwirth doesn't have a particularly strong or expressive instrument. She borders on huskiness and has a tendency to adopt silly vocal mannerisms at times.

But she has a true actor's ability to inhabit her song's characters, reflecting the evening's title; it doesn't refer to anecdotes accompanying the songs, but rather songs that tell stories, which is something that perfectly suits Neuwirth's considerable talents.

Whether relating tales that are comic ("Ring Them Bells," "One Hundred Easy Ways to Lose a Man"), poignant ("Mr. Bojangles"), melancholy ("Surabaya Johnny") or ultimately accepting ("And the World Goes Round"), Neuwirth, accompanied by pianist Scott Cady, conveys every emotion with precise detail. Not surprisingly, she also embellishes such songs as "Simply a Waltz" and "It Only Happens When I Dance With You" with gracefully elegant physicality.

And in her perfect segue from Weill and Brecht's "Bilbao Song" to Kander and Ebb's "Cabaret," she perfectly conveys the stylistic links between these teams of composers separated by oceans and decades.