Melanie Stace: Sirens of the Silver Screen – 54 Below

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NY Music Review by Susan Hasho

 

 

Melanie Stace is naturally prone to be funny, and by training and experience she is an entertainer—and drop dead gorgeous. She created this show around songs performed by chosen sirens Judy Garland, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Betty Hutton, Ruth Etting (Ten Cents a Dance) and an Italian Nina Mazzini (known as Mina, one of the most successful Italian singers of all time). Her choice of sirens is interesting, chosen out of love clearly and familiarity—no clichés here.

With her musical director Doug Oberhamer, she has written a song called Streisand Got There First. And, yes, Barbra has sung every great song under the sun; but Melanie’s outright pointed admission of it brings her show into focus, and thereafter she becomes totally herself. Her inner dancer comes to the fore and her movement, always graceful but slightly under wraps, becomes more apparent—we see glimpses of movement that reveal her to be a dancer as well as a singer. Her movement is restrained and powerful at the same time—like if she would just let herself, she could high kick through the entire Betty Hutton song Stuff Like That There. As it is, she punctuates the song with movement and the lyrics are perfectly and quickly punched out in fabulous fun. It is one of the high points of the evening. Another high point is her performance of Mina’s Never, Never, Never (“impossible to live without you…”) in English and Italian. Melanie singing in Italian is full out and lush…and again, fun. She ended the show with her “favorite song to sing”: The Birth of the Blues. Her rich and powerful singing voice revealed every inch of the siren and talent necessary to fill a cabaret room.

Doug Oberhamer musical director, piano; Tony Romano, guitar; Brian Killeen, bass; Dave Anthony, drums.

54 Below – 254 W 54th Street, Cellar – New York, NY 10019

Tickets and information: 646-476-355154.

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