The New York Times

Lorna with micCABARET REVIEW

Spring Fever Animates An Elegant Songbook


Spring, caroled with a rolled r and embellished with and occasional trill, is the subject of Lorna Dallas's new cabaret show at Arci's Place. A soprano who divides her time between the United States and England (she's American), Ms. Dallas has long specialized in the semi-operatic music of composers like Jerome Kern and Ivor Novello, which she enunciates with a decorous formality in a voice that's still beautiful in its middle register though audibly strained when she reaches for the highest notes.

With her operatic training and air of demure elegance, Ms. Dallas belongs to a tradition (more British than American) that has nurtured theatrical singers from Julie Andrews to Sarah Brightman. As she performs songs steeped in a seasonal atmosphere like "Spring Is a New Beginning," "Spring, Spring, Spring" and "Younger Than Springtime," she conveys the cultivated charm of an official greeter of April gracefully wending her way through beds of tulips and daffodils at a well-mannered English garden party.

The problem facing singers who take this kind of elevated stance is how to break through the formality sufficiently to put a personal stamp on the material.

Ms. Dallas, who is appearing at Arci's through April 28, offers careful line readings that express varying degrees of enthusiasm and wistfulness at the appropriate moments.

But it is all so coolly calculated that what comes across has the warmed-over feeling of a theatrical pose. Genuinely playful humor (which might have enlivened "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" and "Buds Won't Bud") and vulnerability are in short supply.

But if all you want is an oh-so-tasteful immersion in a musical theater sensibility defined by operetta, Ms. Dallas is your ticket.

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