I don’t know what they put in the water, but the Windy City has produced the most amazing series of wisecracking gals with big vocal chops: Karen Mason, Ann Hampton Callaway, Susan Werner. Add Kathryn Payne to that list!
I caught her holding court in the cabaret room at the Gentry on State Thursday night. Her vocal style is Lainie Kazan meets Baby Jane Dexter and she accompanies herself with an Elton John pop energy and sensibility. Selections ranged from standards (A Nightengale Sang) to pop (Get Here) and even songs she wrote, particularly a moving song about a woman waiting for a date in a bar called Fool in Waiting. (Payne makes it abundantly clear in her show that she is very available for the attentions of the right man.)
In addition to being a phenomenal vocalist and musician, Payne could make it doing stand up alone. She’s riotous and involves everyone in the fun.
Maybe the next Cabaret Convention should import water from Chicago!