I got to see Christine Ebersole last month at the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation’s Night of the Stars benefit. Only after agreeing to attend the event did I find that Cabaret Scenes has a policy of not reviewing benefit performances.
So here’s what my review would have been:
Christine Ebersole’s star power was in full force at her appearance at the Night of the Stars benefit in Baltimore. Her stage persona is charming and snappy, and she delivers zingers with a keen wit and concentrated energy.
She is a dynamic, supple singer who can nimbly deliver a song in a great many styles. She can swing with the best in a number like “Strike Up the Band.” She can project a sophisticated wit on the Coward song “What’s Going to Happen to the Tots?” And she can bring a wistful smile with “Right as the Rain.”
Every individual moment of her show was charming and entertaining. Unfortunately, despite direction from Scott Whitman, the show as a whole was surprisingly unfocused with occasionally jarring non-sequiturs. For example a funny story about Ebersole sending her husband off to brain surgery with the sentiment “If you die, I’ll kill you” was followed by a serious rendition of “I Loves You, Porgy.”
Ebersole also has the enviable problem that she is such a competent and versatile vocalist, that when presented with the generic arrangements that music director John Oddo provided she fit into the needs and mood of each particular arrangement. Unfortunately the adeptness of her versatility meant that her musical persona was far less interesting and less consistent than her patter persona, giving the evening an all-over-the-map feeling to it.