Baby Jane Dexter: It’s Personal

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Baby Jane Dexter

It’s Personal 

Metropolitan Room, NYC, November 7, 2015

Reviewed by Peter Haas for Cabaret Scenes

Baby-Jane-Dexter-Rules-of-the-Road-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212Cheers and enthusiastic applause filled the Metropolitan Room for Baby Jane Dexter – and she hadn’t even reached the stage. The occasion: Her return to performing after an absence due to health issues. The summary: She is better than ever, with the same dramatic power and expressiveness, yet with new touches of mellowness and depth.

Accompanied by her musical director of 24 years, Ross Patterson, Dexter conquered the room with a program of popular standards and favorite BJ numbers. Starting with a warm-hearted “I’m in Love Again,” she moved, without patter, through a Dexter standby, Abbey Lincoln’s “Painted Lady,” to Billy Roy’s “Bargain Day” (with its inquiry, “Wanna buy a heart?”) and to Chips Moman/Dan Penn’s “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” eliciting cheers from the audience.

Her storytelling skills were forefront in a thrilling version of DeSylva, Brown & Henderson’s “Birth of the Blues” – with a solo piano break  – and the classic “House of the Rising Sun” followed, in turn, by solid performances of Lance Horne’s “Orpheus” and two humorous pieces, Cole Porter’s “Experiment” and a novelty number (by Axel and Vaccarino),“Everyone Is Gay.”

Wisely, Dexter kept a music stand, with the show’s lyrics on it, within eye range. Referring to it only infrequently, and then with just quick glances, she lost none of her strength in inhabiting a song’s heart nor interpreting it to her audience.

Patterson’s talents were especially spotlighted on two numbers. Following Dexter’s moving vocal of the Rodgers & Hart classic “Blue Moon,” he offered a  solo of it that came close to symphonic, and did the same with a boogie rendition of “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart”—with Baby Jane leading the cheers.

Her encores: “For All We Know” and, as a finale, her powerhouse number, “Everybody Hurts.

” Still singing as she was lifted off the stage and aided through the room, she continued its anthem – “Hold on! Hold on!” – sharing hugs with the standing, cheering audience as she vanished through the exit curtains.

Baby Jane will reappear at the Metropolitan Room for shows on Saturday evenings, November 21 and 28 and Friday evening, December 4.

Peter Haas

Writer, editor, lyricist and banjo plunker, Peter Haas has been contributing features and performance reviews for Cabaret Scenes since the magazine’s infancy. As a young folk-singer, he co-starred on Channel 13’s first children’s series, Once Upon a Day; wrote scripts, lyrics and performed on Pickwick Records’ children’s albums, and co-starred on the folk album, All Day Singing. In a corporate career, Peter managed editorial functions for CBS Records and McGraw-Hill, and today writes for a stable of business magazines. An ASCAP Award-winning lyricist, his work has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Feinstein’s, Metropolitan Room and other fine saloons.