Leslie Orofino: Cocktails with Cole

| May 2, 2017

Leslie Orofino

Cocktails with Cole

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, April 20, 2017

Reviewed by Randolph B. Eigenbrode for Cabaret Scenes

Leslie Orofino

There are few things that seem to bring an audience more joy than a woman (of a certain age) with a naughty glint in her eye, and Leslie Orofino’s newest tribute to Cole Porter overwhelming delivers on this dynamic. Taking a page from the Julie Wilson and Dorothy Loudon playbooks (with a dash of Rue McClanahan sprinkled in), Orofino shimmies, bats her eyelashes, and puts over tongue-in-cheek asides to comic aplomb. Who doesn’t love that?

The show’s spine details Porter’s life, but its heart is Orofino’s charm. Sure, there are no new revelations in this storytelling; Porter’s life and career are practically memorized by most cabaret aficionados. But the thrill comes in watching her interpret these classics, particularly with sublime arrangements by (the always fabulous) Daryl Kojak. From the beginning, Orofino set out on her mantra—“Let’s Misbehave”—and, indeed, the mischievousness began.  She donned a red boa (once belonging to Julie Wilson, natch) and let loose in a raucous, sex-kitten version of “Give Him the Ooh-La-La,” and similarly exploited the potential in “The Laziest Gal in Town.”

But Orofino can put over ballads with understated appeal. Tension oozed out of “What is This Thing Called Love?,” driven by Rex Benincasa’s hypnotic tom-tom rhythm, and she skillfully milked each question mark with a quiet intensity. Moreover, a rich “You Don’t Know Paree,” with shades of Edith Piaf and Josephine Baker, was the highlight of the evening with its wistfulness and heartbreaking stillness.

The piece runs a bit long, particularly with a “Down in the Depths (on the 90th Floor)” that edged out of Orofino’s comfortable range, and a flavorless “Too Darn Hot,” but, again, the charm is undeniable. And for this crowd, Leslie Orofino’s foxy and frisky fun was a triple-cocktail-worthy night that makes you want to yell, “Cheers!”        

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, New York City, New York City Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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