Anna Palermo: Vamp

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Anna Palermo


Davenport’s, Chicago, IL, November 17, 2018

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes

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In Vamp, Anna Palermo explores what makes a woman a vamp. Opening the show wearing the gold lamé dress that seemed molded to her and singing “I Wanna Be Bad” (Willa Ford/Ryan Montgomery/Brian Kierulf/Josh Schwartz), she got us thinking about the intention of the vamp persona. Palermo shares the insight that shoes can be important in the vamp toolbox. Donning six-inch fuchsia-sequined high heels, she delivers “In These Shoes?” (Pete Glenister/Kirstey MacColl/William Correa/Melvin Lastio) explaining, with just the right amount of exasperation, that because of the high heels, the high adventures are now out of the question. She shares the saga of the clandestine vamp in a joyfully delivered “Miss Byrd” (Maltby & Shire). “Just Once” (Jones & Schmidt; The Fantasticks) was prettily sung and reflected the longing for more than “just keeping house.” The vamp’s sensual side was expressed in a pairing of “Something in the Way She Moves,” which started so slow it set perhaps an unintentional sense of melancholy, and Billy Joel’s “Don’t Know What It Is.” Reflecting that a vamp is independent, musical director Beckie Menzie joined Palermo in “Cell Block Tango” (Kander & Ebb; Chicago) in the funny, unified declaration that indeed “he had it coming.” Palermo is engaging, and we learned why the lady is a vamp.

Carla Gordon

Carla Gordon is a singer/songwriter, director, and producer. The Chicago Tribune cited her among “Chicago’s most accomplished cabaret performers….a major player in Chicago cabaret.” Reviewer Pam Peterson called her “Honey-voiced wisecracker!” Ageless Magazine called her performance as Sophie tucker, “A gem!” Gordon writes custom material for singers nationwide. Her flagship show, "Blacklisted," featuring songs made famous by artists blacklisted under McCarthyism, has toured to critical acclaim. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Cabaret Professionals and on the Advisory Board of the Skokie Theater. Her songs air on WFMT’s Midnight Special and are being performed performed by cabaret artists nationwide.