Tom Rolla’s Gardenia, West Hollywood, CA, February 24, 2017
Reviewed by Les Traub for Cabaret Scenes
Sandy Bainum’s tour of blondes in her show Ever Blondeward didn’t just stop at the expected major attractions like Marilyn Monroe, Ginger Rogers and Peggy Lee, but included visits to the likes of Blossom Dearie, Judy Holliday, Dorothy Collins and Dolores Gray, and with a nod to a more contemporary blonde, Joni Mitchell. This broad (no pun intended) range of subjects required a broad vocal range and the ability to fit comfortably in a number of different styles as Bainum covered such disparate singers as Dearie and Barbara Cook. She displayed a keen jazz sensitivity in her salute to Dearie with Dave Frishberg’s “I’m Hip,” which nicely echoed Dearie’s coy delivery and, later in the show, hit the money note saluting Cook with “Vanilla Ice Cream.” Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” the closer before the encores, was a tour du force as Bainum convincingly hit the emotions of the lyrics.
Her opening, a salute to Peggy Lee with “I Love Being Here with You,” included special lyrics written by Musical Director Lanny Meyers, listing the blondes that would be included in the show. Bainum’s vocals were suggestive of the singers she honored rather than imitations. Her extensive research led her to such things as the vintage LP Sex Kittens in Hi-Fi: The Blondes, where she found Judy Holliday singing “An Occasional Man.” With her subjects, she provided a brief biographical sketch of the singer or some thoughts on her style or comments on what made her unique.
Her encore included a surprise visit from Sally Struthers, wandering in from the front door, dressed in nightgown and curlers and wondering if she was too late for the show. Her outfit, in contrast to Bainum’s immaculate appearance, was a clever visual for their duet on Kander & Ebb’s “The Grass Is Always Greener.”
This well-constructed theme show undoubtedly reflects the strong guiding hand of its director, Andrea Marcovicci.