The NYTimes falls under the spell of Karen Akers’s Rodgers and Hart show: “Ms. Akers, accompanied by Don Rebic on piano and Dick Sarpola on bass, doesn’t take a phrase of Hart’s lyrics for granted. Her wistful, witty, carefully considered interpretations are tender deconstructions that turn “moon, June, spoon” conventions into private thoughts.”
The Washington Post reviews Karen Akers’s stand at the Kennedy Center: “The Akers style, well-branded by now, is cool as champagne on ice. The lyrics were crystalline and the melodies smooth and straightforward; Akers’s smoky alto often seemed to ally itself with Jon Nazdin’s steady bass, while pianist and musical director Don Rebic provided energy and color. It was a suave arrangement all around.”
Here’s the line-up for the Barbara Cook’s Spotlight series:
- Cheyenne Jackson (Oct. 9)
- Christine Ebersole (Nov. 14)
- Karen Akers (Dec. 12)
- Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell (April 30, 2010)
- Jessica Molaskey and John Pizzarelli (June 4, 2010)
The current Plabill.com “Diva Watch” column has a featured interview with Karen Akers, currently appearing at the Algonquin. An excerpt may be of particular interest to Washington audiences:
Question: I know you also did your Kander and Ebb show at the Signature recently.
Akers: Oh, God! That was so much fun, except for opening night. Opening night, I had what can only be called a train wreck*. [Laughs.] It wasn’t that bad, I’m exaggerating. I had just flown back from London from doing a week at Jermyn Street, eight shows that week plus an added show for students at RADA. The next morning I got up after the RADA three-hour master class I did on Monday night. I flew back to the States, unpacked, repacked, and a couple of days after that flew to Washington to do Signature. It was a totally different show from what I had been doing in London. Opening night, my mind just, a couple of times, went absolutely white. Surgical white. I was miserable because I had dear friends in the audience, and I felt I was letting them down big time. It wasn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be but, by my standards, I was really upset. And, from that point on, everything was just gorgeous. The rest of the week we sailed and had so much fun. The audiences loved the show, and we sold out, so what could be bad? [Laughs.]
And by the way, I love the artistic director there, Eric Schaeffer. Not only is he a doll, but he is one of the most creative, most imaginative artistic directors working today. I saw his Witches of Eastwick, which was just so splendid and fun.… I don’t want to get into particulars, but I had seen two other productions of that [musical], and this one was, by far, the outstanding one. I mean, truly, everybody was gorgeous. It was so much fun and sexy in a way that I had just never seen before.
(I’m going to say this — I am totally shocked that Akers is using the above as a publicity picture. Having seen her in the last couple of months I can attest that she looks much better — and the sense of allure and glamour that she brings to the cabaret stage is one of the most consistent assets of her performance. I wonder what gives.)
* Guess which show I saw
The NYTimes reviews Akers’s new show at the Algonquin: ““Move On” is certainly a courageous show for its confrontation of loneliness, loss, aging and the wistful longing for immortality (the Flaherty-Ahrens song “I Was Here”). But the material leans toward solemnity. As always, Ms. Akers’s arresting contralto, impeccable enunciation and musical intelligence make for articulate, sensitive interpretations.”
Karen Akers’s new CD is a tribute to the music of Jule Styne. It contains a full assortment of expected Styne songs including his WWII hits (e.g. It’s Been a Long, Long Time) and Broadway classics (Just In Time, Let Me Entertain You, Make Someone Happy). There are also some rarely-done songs including Killing Time and How Could I Know and the occasional rarely-performed lyric.
Don Rebic provides terrific arrangements that any singer would crave and pitches in with the occasional vocal counterpoint.
Karen Akers is absolutely lovely in the cover photo.
1. Three Coins in the Fountain
2. Music That Makes Me Dance/Just in Time
3. Time After Time
4. It’s Been a Long Long Time
5. I Fall in Love Too Easily
6. Medley: Let Me Entertain You/You Gotta Get a Gimmick
7. Some People
8. Long Before I Knew You
9. I’ve Heard That Song Before Suite: I’ve Heard That Song Before/I Don’t Want To Walk Without You, Baby/Five Minutes More/I’ll Walk Alone/I’ve Heard That Song Before (reprise)
10. If (You Hadn’t But You Did)
11. Ten Thousand Four Hundred Thirty Two Sheep
12. My Own Morning
13. Who Are Your Now?
14. Party’s Over Suite: The Party’s Over, Pt. 1/Killing Time/Absent-Minded Me
15. Party’s Over Suite: Winter Was Warm/The Party’s Over, Pt. 2/How Could I Know?
16. Medley: Make Someone Happy/Music That Makes Me Dance
(OK. This write-up comes across as snarkier than it should be. Akers has flawless diction. The whole album is much more successful on the whole than her last outing, Like it Was. For better or for worse there’s nothing truly jaw-dropping-ly, shatteringly idiosyncratic — e.g. Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight, Unchained Melody in French — as there has been in her previous recordings.)
Karen Akers appears at Signature Theater next week as part of their Kander and Ebb festival presenting her show — First You Dream: The Songs of Kander & Ebb — Tuesday, 11 March – Sunday, 16 March.
The Bad News
The show is sold out. The advice for anyone wanting to catch the show from Signature publicist Suzanne Stephens is “patrons can call Signature’s Box Office in case tickets are donated back to the theater that can be resold. The box office number is 703-820-9771.”
The Hopeful News
According to Stephens, the 8 shows sold out simply as part of the season subscription package. Let’s hope that this inspires Signature to book some other high-profile performers. Wouldn’t it be great to see Karen Mason, Andrea Marcovicci, or Jason Graae in the venue?