Theatre Reviews Limited
MARCH 9, 2000

LornaLorna Dallas
At the FireBird Café

Reviewed by David Roberts for Theatre Reviews Limited

It gets more and more difficult for cabaret performers to find "hooks" to hang their programs on. The effort to find a title is not only a convention of organization, it is an attempt on the singer's part to assure the audience they are not in store for the same standards they heard the night before at another venue from the repertoire of another performer. Sometimes these "hooks" are misleading, sometimes meaningless, sometimes downright deceptive.

In the case of Lorna Dallas, the title of her show "Glamorous Night: Lorna Dallas Sings the Music of Kern and Novello" is certainly an apt description of what Ms. Dallas has to offer in this acclaimed London production which she has brought to the FireBird Café for a limited run. If anything, in this case, the title is limiting since no epithet could properly express the sheer energy Lorna Dallas is capable of when she stands before an appreciative audience.

Ms Dallas does not just sing, she personifies the words and music she chooses to perform and she does the "act" with a sense of conviction and a degree of depth that invades the audience with irrepressible energy. Throughout, she manages to point away from herself to the talent of Jerome Kern and Ivor Novello and the glamour that was their auspicious collaboration.

The audience is treated to "In the Heart of the Dark,""London, Dear Old London," Waltz of My Heart/Waltz in Swing Time," "All The Things Your Are," "Dark Music," " Paris Reminds Me of You/The Last Time I Saw Paris," and "My Life Belongs to You/Love Made the Song."

The arrangements of these songs (by Christopher Denny and Barry Kleinbort) are brilliant (as is Mr. Denny's work at the piano). Mr. Denny, Mr. Kleinbort, Mr. Bob Renino (bass) and Ms. Dallas are a formidable creative team and the height of their creativity comes in the showstopping numbers that highlight Kern's and Novello's collaborative genius.

Ms. Dallas' "Bill" from SHOW BOAT (1927) and "Left All Alone Again Blues/The 'Have You Forgotten Me?' Blues" secure Lorna Dallas' place as a master of interpretation and song styling and as a fine actor. In "Bill" Ms. Dallas' subtle movement from doubt to certainty is convincing. And her choice of the Novello-Wodehouse collaboration "Nuts in May" from THE GOLDEN MOTH (1921) gives the audience an opportunity to experience Lorna Dallas as a skilled comic actor as well.

However, none of this prepares the audience for the closing songs which are sung with a joyful woundedness and a vulnerable diligence. "You Are Love/Look in My Heart" from the early SHOW BOAT (1927) and the later VALLEY OF SONG (1964) and "Once in a Blue Moon," the Kern-Caldwell collaboration from the 1923 STEPPING STONES make Lorna Dallas' appearance a once in a life time experience. Lorna Dallas and the FireBird Café are perfect together. Let's hope she can stay on "this side of the pond" a bit longer.

Reviewed on Thursday, March 9, 2000


"Glamorous Night" Lorna Dallas sings the music of Kern and Novello. Musical arrangements by Christopher Denny and Barry Kleinbort.

Directed by Barry Kleinbort. Musical Direction and piano by Christopher Denny. Bob Renino, bass. Presented at the FireBird Café, 365 West 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. Remaining performances: Friday, March 17th at 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.
There will be a $30.00 cover charge and a $15.00 food/drink minimum. For reservations, call (212) 586 0244.

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