Sally Darling: Love, Lust & Longing

| July 7, 2017

Sally Darling

Love, Lust & Longing

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, July 5, 2017

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Sally Darling

To create a classic-style cabaret act, you need a performer with a distinct persona and recognizable voice, either a unique subject or a unique approach to the subject, an intriguing song list that amplifies the approach, some clever on-point patter, and a musical director who serves as a partner in crime. Sally Darling’s new show hits all these points perfectly.

Darling on stage comes off as your worldly, sophisticated aunt who fascinates you, even though — or perhaps because — the rest of the family doesn’t quite approve of her. Her soignée  style made her perfect for her previous show of Noël Coward numbers, and she does revisit him here briefly, but she also seems to connect so well with Stephen Sondheim (“Liaisons,” wisely delivered) and Kurt Weill and Marc Blitzstein (“Barbara Song,” divinely articulated).

Her voice is an odd, attractive mix of a high soprano and a throaty baritone—an attractive vibrato comes and goes. At moments, she reminds one of recordings of Gertrude Lawrence, at others the peerless Charlotte Rae. Lyrics are delivered with crystalline clarity and light emphasis. She has that rare gift to deliver words to the audience as if they have just occurred to her, even with those songs that are embedded in our ears from previous performances.

The idea of contrasting love and lust may not be new, but the song list playfully jumps back and forth between the two emotions with statements both old and new, from the wondering of “What Is This Thing Called Love?” to the bitterness of “The Olives of Regret” (Nicholas Levin) to the rueful encore duet with musical director Matthew Martin Ward, “I Wish I Were in Love Again.”

And she indeed is aided by Ward, her musical collaborator, accompanist and, occasionally, vocal duettist. He even delivers a delicious solo of naughty impropriety, “Currier and Ives” (Dorothy Fields/Sigmund Romberg) and duets with Darling on the same songwriters’ far more romantic “Close As Pages in a Book.”

Darling’s patter, though she prefers the word “text,” illustrates and amplifies her song choices. Comments on love and lust from a wide-ranging folks: Lily Tomlin, Mae West, Bertram Russell, Spike Milligan.

It will be a great pleasure to see what Darling next offers us. Meantime, there is one more performance on July 9 at 5 pm to enjoy this delicious show.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, New York City, New York City Cabaret Pick of The Week, Regional

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