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Diamonds Are Forever: The Songs of Dame Shirley Bassey

Jennifer Leigh Warren's new cabaret show is a fitting tribute to the great British singer. logo
Jennifer Leigh Warren
in Diamonds Are Forever
(Courtesy of the company)
Frank Sinatra sang once that "love and marriage go together like horse and carriage." As Jennifer Leigh Warren proves in her new cabaret show, Diamonds Are Forever: The Songs of Dame Shirley Bassey, now at the Los Angeles Gay And Lesbian Center under Richard-Jay Alexander's direction, her voice is an equally perfect fit for the style of the great British singer. She has down pat both Bassey's pointed intonations and her brassy attitude.

Warren scores with Bassey's biggest hits, especially her popular James Bond themes, "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Goldfinger." Yet it was the Beatles melodic "Something" and Jerry Herman's anthem "I Am What I Am" that received the loudest hosannas from the audience.

Warren --dressed in gowns by Ali Rahimi -- is having a ball with many of the numbers, shimmying during "Big Spender," flipping her hand in protest during "Puhleeze! Mister Brown," or shaking a tail feather in "History Repeating."

Sometimes she teases the audience with an innocent but naughty baby voice, and, at one point, lures the audience into placing dollar bills into forbidden places. Between the numbers, Warren, who clearly grew up in awe of Bassey, recounts a few anecdotes of the great chanteuse's life and career.

Kenneth Crouch and his seven-piece band are the fire that ignites Warren during her show-stopping numbers. Although the trumpets and sax pump energy into the jazz numbers, it's the lyrical flutes in one of the wistful songs that surprise. And the guitarist Aron Forbes plucking out some of those 1960s riffs, like the opening of "History Repeating," is a joyful noise indeed.

The only issue is the sound mixing, which causes a few cacophonous moments. The band and Warren appear at times to be fighting in a noise rumble that a good mixing board could have fixed.

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