Lila Day’s “More of the Same”

May 6, 2024

Lila Day made her cabaret debut with a show that had a “COVID-adjacent” premiere. Despite the circumstances, she loved the experience and knew that she wanted to do another. When she sat down to write her next endeavor, she realized that the ideas that had filled her first show were still firmly front and center in her mind, so after some consternation, she accepted the situation and created the aptly named More of the Same which she presented at Pangea, the site of her initial performance. The show was an almost perfect blend of music and comedy in which lyrics became extensions of her hilarious, pointed patter, and the spoken observations rose so naturally out of the lyrics that the music was almost incidental to one long, ingenious, hilarious, and uniquely personal monologue.  

Lila Day

That is not to slight the musical elements in any way; the wonderfully chosen repertoire was played with just the right blend of laid-back musicality and, by turns, witty and infectious playing by the great Daryl Kojak who served as music director. The opener, the ubiquitous “That’s All” (Bob Haymes, Alan Brandt) was a red flag for me because at this point the song is the very definition of overdone, but my fears were almost immediately waylaid as the singer quickly interrupted with very funny, self-deprecating patter. When she jumped handily into “Is That All There Is?” (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller), she revealed herself to be a clown at heart—Day is a good singer, to be sure, but first and foremost a clown in the deadpan, rip-roaringly underplayed style of Virginia O’Brien or, to add a comparison of more recent vintage, Steven Wright. 

In her hands, “Stuck in the Middle” (Gerry Rafferty, Joey Egan) became a sad-sack reminiscence. After the singer surprised the room with the inclusion of the rarely done verse for “You’re Nobody till Somebody Loves You” (Russ Morgan, Larry Stock, James Cavanaugh), the constant flow of wonderfully arranged and played piano made the often clichéd song bristle with contemporary, personal energy. Providing a surreal moment of heightened hilarity, Day deliciously skewered the dreadful “I’ve Never Been to Me” (Ron Miller, Kenneth Hirsch) with mock sincerity. Relating the differences between turning 45 and turning 50 proved a perfect jumping off point for “I’m Tired” (Mel Brooks, from Blazing Saddles), which has rarely been funnier. Her take on “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have? (Burton Lane, Alan Jay Lerner, from On a Clear Day You Can See Forever) was again shaped to her comedic journey getting smiles and laughs by personalizing it with the addition of tiny re-writes like “Where did my sexy go?” 

There were a few “breathers” scattered throughout the hilarity, and one of the best was a terrific pairing of “The 59th Street Bridge Song” (Paul Simon) and Billy Joel’s “Vienna” joined together to offer the sage advice to “slow down.”  “I’m a Fool to Want You” (Jack Wolf, Frank Sinatra, Joel Herron) was transformed by setting it up as a hymn to New York City (the “longest relationship of her life”) rather than to an errant lover. Kojak’s dip into the tango for his arrangement was perfection. With a burst of raw energy, Day dove into a bit of Motown with the rare, “Leaving Here” (Eddie Holland, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier) and displayed a surprising mastery of the style. 

Recounting a bit of her past, she touched on the dreams of her 13-year-old self and let the patter grow into a poem she wrote in her 20s.  It was a silly but perfectly natural lead-in to a bizarre but inspired song choice— “Thunderball” (John Barry, Don Black) which was fun but could have used a healthier dose of melodrama. 

With sensitive accompaniment by Kojak, “The Girl Who Used to Be Me” (Marvin Hamlisch, Alan & Marilyn Bergman) was a warm, real peek behind the comic surface. Unfortunately, that lovely moment was followed by another “serious” number, “First You Dream” (John Kander, Fred Ebb), that proved to be one sincere ballad too many and stopped the show cold. It seriously undercut the resonance of the next song, “Make Someone Happy” (Jule Styne, Betty Comden & Adolph Green) which would have been perfectly placed after “The Girl Who Used to Be Me.” Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes” was a beautifully thought-out wrap-up to the show and a touching comment on the singer’s leap into the world of cabaret. 

A rollicking medley of songs from Gypsy (Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim) was a delightful climactic number, right down to the crowd-pleasing final notes of “Rose’s Turn.”  Unfortunately, it was not the climactic number.  That fell to a slowed down, “serious” reprise of “That’s All” that was completely unnecessary; I spent the entirety of the song wishing and hoping for a comic aside or stinging comment or anything resembling the irreverent moments that filled the preceding hour. And once again, this balladic error hurt the encore that followed—“Crazy He Calls Me” (Bob Russell, Carl Sigman). It was a great choice that not only survived, but managed to erase the flatness of the closer. 

The wild yet sure comedic hand of director Kristine Zbornik was present throughout the evening and underlined just what a special, funny, endearing performer Lila Day is.  I will be first in line to see Even More of the Same, or whatever her next cabaret adventure might be.  


Presented at Pangea, 178 Second Ave., NYC, March 14, 2024.


About the Author

Gerry Geddes has conceived and directed a number of musical revues—including the Bistro- and MAC Award-winning "Monday in the Dark with George" and "Put On Your Saturday Suit-Words & Music by Jimmy Webb"—and directed many cabaret artists, including André De Shields, Helen Baldassare, Darius de Haas, and drag artist Julia Van Cartier. He directs "The David Drumgold Variety Show," currently in residence at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, and has produced a number of recordings, including two Bistro-winning CDs. He’s taught vocal performance at The New School, NYU, and London’s Goldsmith’s College and continues to conduct private workshops and master classes. As a writer and critic, he has covered New York’s performing arts scene for over 40 years in both local and national publications; his lyrics have been sung by several cabaret and recording artists. Gerry is an artist in residence at Pangea, and a regular contributor to the podcast “Troubadours & Raconteurs.” He just completed a memoir of his life in NYC called “Didn’t I Ever Tell You This?”