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Christine Ebersole: The End of the World As We Know It Cabaret

The Tony Award-winning star delivers another extraordinary evening of entertainment at the Cafe Carlyle. logo
Christine Ebersole
If indeed 2012 marks my last year on earth, as Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole leads us to believe in her new show, The End of the World As We Know It Cabaret, at the Cafe Carlyle, I'll be glad that at least one hour of it was spent watching this extraordinary evening of entertainment.

In this beautifully put-together 60-minute piece, directed by the brilliant Scott Wittman and featuring a superb five-piece band led by the sublime John Oddo, Ebersole once more pulls off the seemingly impossible (or at least improbable): combing scathing political commentary, heartfelt anecdotes about her family, and an incredibly eclectic songlist into an act that's not just coherent, but often transcendent.

Of course, as her Broadway fans know, Ebersole has the two most important gifts at her disposal that any cabaret artist can have. A consummate actress, she can make her "patter" sound not only fresh, but completely believable -- and I have little doubt she practices what she preaches.

As a singer, she is prodigiously gifted, with a huge vocal range and the ability to perform a soulful ballad, raise-the-roof gospel number, or jazzy standard with equal agility.

Here, she accomplishes all of the above, gliding effortlessly through a program that begins with a snippet of "Go Down Moses" followed by a fast and brassy "Strike Up the Band," and ends with a dreamy tune written by Ebersole entitled "Gently Down the Stream," that incorporates the famed nursery rhyme.

As good as those selections are, it's what comes in between that consistently impresses: a supremely humorous take on Noel Coward's tongue-twisting "What's Going to Happen to the Tots?," thrillingly rendered renditions of "Blow, Gabriel, Blow, "I'll Fly Away, " and "Johnny One Note," a shockingly powerful "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime," and truly gorgeous versions of "Right as the Rain," and "I Loves You, Porgy." (Yep, she can even do that!)

I really hope the world doesn't end this year -- if only so Ebersole can do a new show in 2013. But if she's right, I'd like to request a reprise of this show for my last hour on earth.

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