The Art of Being Dumped
Arthur Newman Theatre, Palm Desert, CA, October 9, 2016
Reviewed by Les Michaels for Cabaret Scenes
The 7th season of the Sundays in Summer cabaret series in Palm Desert featured some of its most popular shows, including one production that inspired two well-deserved and enthusiastic standing ovations. Ter Gallagher, a part-time Palm Springs resident who divides her time with her hometown of Seattle, was one of the surprise hits of the season. She is known for her bright and brassy personality; however, her new show, The Art of Being Dumped, opened doors to a more serious side through well-written stories that followed her life, with a diverse mix of music that highlighted the power and range of her voice.
Gallagher, who is classically trained, attended the prestigious Yale Cabaret Conference and performs regularly with a rock/blues band, presented more of a one-woman show, than a cabaret act. The Art of Being Dumped follows her from being a young Catholic teen who enters a convent where she is told, by Sister Geraldine, that she is too “dramatic” to be a nun and should perhaps look for another calling. This more life-changing “dump” seemed the start of many more that ranged from dating much older men, marriage, the loss of a child at birth, being widowed twice, her Cougar phase dating much younger men and, finally, breaking the spell and finding Mr. Right. Though some stories were difficult, she performed them with humor, vulnerability and wisdom, and the audience followed the journey with literally every song ending with cheers.
Aside from the challenging content of her story, this charismatic performer looked dazzling in a bright red jumpsuit with her signature ash blonde hair down to her waist. She worked the stage and seemed to play to everyone in the audience with her very eclectic song selections covering the full range of emotions. Some of the highlights were her pristine “Ave Maria,” torchy “Another Mister Right Left,” elegant “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?,” cheeky “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” and a gospel “God Bless the Child” that brought down the house.
Direction of the show is attributed to acclaimed Los Angeles cabaret producer and director Clifford Bell, with musical direction/piano by Palm Springs local Joel Baker, and featured locals Jeff Stover on bass and Doug Dean on drums.