“The Second Time Around”
Feinstein’s at Loews Regency – January 19 – 30
Something pretty marvelous is taking place at Feinstein’s these days: Tyne Daly is back in a show directed by David Galligan, and she is, to sum things up, pretty marvelous. We’ve known that she’s an accomplished actress and singer, but we may not have known that she is also an enchantress. With her very first number, Irving Berlin’s “The Hostess with the Mostes’ on the Ball” (with witty custom lyrics), she wins us over, and from song to song, patter to patter, she continues to entertain, charm, touch and delight us, so that by the end of the evening, she’s captured our hearts—not to mention our admiration.
In no way does this wizardry seem calculated. Whether it’s a lightly tossed off funny remark, or a wry reference—with a self-deprecating zinger—to a childhood ambition, it all seems genuine; one feels she’d be a terrific person to have dinner with.
One of the evening’s virtues is the imagination that went into her selection of material. When was the last time you heard the futuristic “Oh, Happy Day” (Gene DePaul, Johnny Mercer) from Li’l Abner, J. Paul Fogarty and Rudy Vallee’s “Betty Co-Ed,” or the adorable “And Then Some,” a Wee Bonnie Baker hit written by Tot Seymour and Vee Lawnhurst? Also virtues are the orchestrations by musical director John McDaniel and the instrumental colorations delivered by McDaniel on piano, Tom Hubbard on bass, Ray Marchica on percussion, Rick Heckman on woodwinds, and Peter Sachon on cello. And though not essential, but very nice to see, on the evening I attended, the musicians seemed every bit as taken with Daly as we all were.
But the show’s greatest asset is Daly’s artful song interpretations, and more fundamentally, her approach to interpreting songs—an approach that is at once deft, light and eloquent, and all the more effective because of its confident lightness, an approach that newer vocalists would do well to study and consider. As an example, the quiet intensity she brings to Bill Withers’s “Ain’t No Sunshine,” or her dry delivery of George Brooks’s “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair,” with which she shows how to get down without laboring for effect or trying to impersonate Bessie Smith.
Many singers who assay Frank Loesser’s “Adelaide’s Lament” overdo the stock character attributes, which might include a squeaky or nasal voice and a not-to-the-manor-born accent; Daly sells the song as well as anyone I’ve ever heard without resorting to those props. Similarly, there’s the finely observed French accent she employs in a medley of Jerry Herman songs from Dear World—and her rendition is an object lesson in acting, timing, and subtlety. Then there’s the sweetness and tenderness she brings to “Thank You So Much” (Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim), and the uncommonly affecting emotional base she’s unearthed in “Oh Boy” (Sonny West, Bill Tilghman, Norman Petty).
By the way, the show’s theme is Time, and Daly introduces it with a medley of three standards: “There, I’ve Said It Again” (Redd Evans, David Mann), “Time After Time” (Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn), and “My Time Is Your Time” (H. M. Tennent, R.S. Hooper). The medley is one of only two missteps in the show, for while it is pleasant, it lacks focus or cohesiveness. The other mistake is the positing of Daly’s French friend called Le Grand Pigeon (in contrast to The Little Sparrow), and Daly uses her to set up singing Hoagy Carmichael and Mitchell Parish’s “Stardust” in French. The fiction is hokey, and the language choice unsupportable. On the other hand, Daly’s rendition is lovely—so lovely that I longed to hear her sing the song in its original language.
About the Author
Roy Sander has been covering cabaret and theatre for over thirty years. He’s written cabaret and theatre reviews, features, and commentary for seven print publications, most notably Back Stage, and for CitySearch on the Internet. He covered cabaret monthly on “New York Theatre Review” on PBS TV, and cabaret and theatre weekly on WLIM-FM radio. He was twice a guest instructor at the London School of Musical Theatre. A critic for BistroAwards.com, he is also the site’s Reviews Editor; in addition, he is Chairman of the Advisory Board of MAC.