Those Girls

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Those Girls

Laurie Beechman Theatre, NYC, October 23, 2016

Reviewed by Joel Benjamin for Cabaret Scenes

(L-R) Eve Eaton, Rachel Hanser, Karen Mack, Wendy Russell
(L-R) Eve Eaton, Rachel Hanser, Karen Mack, Wendy Russell

Those Girls are four music-loving women who met at cabaret classes conducted by the influential teacher Lennie Watts, who directed this program. From the few artists I’ve seen whom he has coached, I understand that he wants his students to find new ways to interpret old songs and that is what Those Girls did.

Eve Eaton, Karen Mack (who jokingly called herself Liesl, as in The Sound of Music), Rachel Hanser and Wendy Russell make up the group whose enthusiasm and technical abilities carried them through a program of songs made famous by such artists as Michael Jackson, Dolly Parton, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Annie Lennox, Pat Benatar and even the Ames Brothers (remember them?) whose “The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane” (Sid Tepper/Roy Bennett) provided a perfect opportunity for four-part harmony.

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Each woman had a chance to shine as in “Jolene” (Parton) in which the narrative was passed among the quartet. “Walking on Broken Glass” (Lennox) featured Russell and a bongo solo.

“Radio Gaga” (Roger Taylor) featured Eaton, and “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” (Eddie Schwartz) was led by Hanser.

An amiable Mack sang “Ordinary Day” (Daniel Phillip White/Mark Vincent Reilly/Basia Trzetrzelewska) with a sly Latin beat.

(We also got her “Long Goodbyes,” written with Watts, as a sweet ending to the show.

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“The Times They Are A-Changin’” (Dylan) and “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” (David Mann/Bob Hilliard) were other examples of skillful exhibitions of close harmony.

These four talented singers might want to put more effort into their presentation and decide on a look and style that suits them all. They also should reconsider the “choreography” they perform as it comes across as a tad awkward.

Their love of music, camaraderie and desire to entertain get them through their set pleasantly.

Steven Ray Watkins, on piano, was the musical director, with Ted Stafford on guitar/bass and Donna Kelly on drums.

Joel Benjamin

A native New Yorker, Joel was always fascinated by musical theater. Luckily, he was able to be a part of seven Broadway musicals before the age of 14, quitting to pursue a pre-med degree, which led no where except back to performing in the guise of directing a touring ballet troupe. Always interested in writing, he wrote a short play in high school that was actually performed, leading to a hiatus of nearly 40 years before he returned to writing as a reviewer. Writing for Cabaret Scenes has kept him in touch with world filled with brilliance.