Nourse Theater, San Francisco, CA, January 7, 2017
Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes
Christine Ebersole certainly knows how to command a stage. The two-time Tony Award winner, film, television, and recording star put on a sparkling show, singing a smartly chosen set and sharing some intimate anecdotes with host and pianist Seth Rudetsky. Ebersole, who joins Patti LuPone on Broadway this season in War Paint, was in excellent voice—clear, emotional, and immaculate tone.
Opening with Harry Warren and Al Dubin’s “Lullaby of Broadway,” Ebersole transported her rapturous fans with an eclectic selection of tunes from her vast repertoire, from her 1980 star-making turn as Guinevere opposite Richard Burton in Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot (“The Simple Joys of Maidenhood”), to her amazing 2006 portrayal of Little Edie Beale in Grey Gardens (“Around the World”).
A Q&A with good friend Rudetsky reveals her desire for moving from second seat orchestra violin to the stage, a star-struck newbie meeting Richard Burton and learning the score of Camelot in three days, and jumping at an opportunity to audition for Grey Gardens after being obsessed with the original Maysles documentary.
Ebersole absolutely shone on the comic “The Boy From…”(Stephen Sondheim and Mary Rodgers’ parody of “The Girl from Ipanema”), Funny Girl’s “The Music That Makes Me Dance,” and “Beyond the Blue Horizon” (Leo Robin/Richard A. Whiting/W. Franke Harling), introduced by Jeanette MacDonald in 1930.
A lovely Larry Grossman/Ellen Fitzhugh song from Paper Moon, “I Do What I Can (with What I Got),” and “Will You?” from Grey Gardens were truly magic musical moments in Ebersole’s hands. She was at times poignant, dramatic, and downright funny. Soon to be 64, she is defying the odds by continuing to work steadily. War Paint could be just another chapter in her stellar career.