Stages – Lorna Dallas at The Crazy Coqs Live at Zedel
Just two days after her birthday (it would be less than good manners to mention which one) Crazy Coqs welcomed back the formidably talented and remarkably youthful Lorna Dallas to perform no less than 20 songs to a room at Zedels packed with many clearly devoted followers.
Her programme, entitled “Stages” reflected a long career which began in small town Illinois but took her around the world appearing in opera, musical theatre and cabaret. Director Barry Kleinbort packaged a range of songs which showcased Ms Dallas’ still extraordinarily fine voice, starting with an unlikely but effective combination of Irving Berlin and Stephen Sondheim (glued together with additional lyrics by Kleinbort).
Seven decades worth of songs were interspersed with recollections of a life in show business and work with a range of well-known performers. It was an eclectic mix of material, including “My Dearest Dear” from the sadly rarely performed Ivor Novello as well as favourites “Hello Young Lovers” from Rogers & Hammerstein and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Arlen & Harburg. Grossman & Forrest’s “Empty” would have been unfamiliar to most audience members having been cut from the show Minnie’s Boys prior to opening but the sensitive interpretation by Ms Dallas raised the question as to why it was not considered worthy of inclusion in 1970. It was a clever programme. Songs were not simply inserted chronologically as career examples but often reflected an aspect of her life while not dwelling on the few disappointments or turns of fate along the way of what she herself acknowledged as being extraordinarily fortunate.
Lorna Dallas certainly knows how to hold an audience, although on occasion was guilty of slightly overplaying the sincerity card. This did not however detract from a vocal performance of expression, technique, subtlety and power together with exquisite diction. She clearly loves to sing, making every word count while never forgetting that each song involves a story which must capture the audience from beginning to end. At the piano, musical director Chris Denny produced flawless accompaniment with some wonderfully rich arrangements of both classics and material unfamiliar to even the most ardent musical theatre followers. The jazz influenced interpretations were never in danger of overwhelming the quality of original material, allowing Ms Lorna Dallas to perform as only she knows how and producing a well-deserved standing ovation at its conclusion. This was definitely a class act.
Review by Robin Kelly
To find out what else is on at Crazy Coqs, Live at Zedel check out their website.