Christine Ebersole at the Cafe Carlyle
In her sublime new cabaret act, the award-winning star proves she's the true queen of all music styles.
While a singer of lesser artistry -- not to mention sheer talent -- might be afraid to try to navigate the zigs and zags of Ebersole's eclectic set list, she makes handling these hairpin turns look effortless. One minute, Ebersole is the epitome of exuberance singing Andy Razaf and Jimmy Johnson's witty "A Porter's Love Song to A Chambermaid" and a mere 60 seconds later she's painting a picture of true love with a gorgeous, deeply-felt take on Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's "The Folks Who Live on the Hill."
The real joy of this act, however, is in the more surprising selections, which include jazz-tinged renditions of "Too Darn Hot" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street," in which Ebersole lets loose in ways she hasn't in prior acts. And her full-out assault on "Stormy Weather" would put most blues singers to shame.
Still, my favorite moments are Ebersole's gently comic and completely endearing version of Ogden Nash and Kurt Weill's "That's Him," and her encore, "Mink, Schmink," which she performs as a tribute to the late, great Eartha Kitt, complete with a dead-on impression of the legendary star. It's done with love -- and it gets a laugh.
Having proved her facility with Noel Coward in last year's revival of Blithe Spirit, it's appropriate that Ebersole now displays her affinity for his music in a stunning medley of "Matelot" and "The Wild Wild Weather" and concludes her show with a masterly "I'll See You Again." Let's hope she keeps that promise!