Gretchen Reinhagen: #iBlamePaleo

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Gretchen Reinhagen


Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, November 25, 2017

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Gretchen Reinhagen

Gretchen Reinhagen is an impish performer—half Nancy Walker, half Imogene Coca—with, of course, a large helping of her muse, Kaye Ballard. Her newest show begins with a very funny and very pointless video. Then, she quickly announces her program is about… nothing. Actually, the evening is simply a delightful display of her view of the world, a mix of cynicism and compassion.
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Her mix of emotions is made clear in “What’s a Nice Girl Like Me Doing Working in a Joint Like This” (Norman Martin) in which she interjects her love for Don’t Tell Mama, even while singing a funny number about performing in a dive. And she delivers “Life Sucks and Then You Die” (Ray Jessel) with a twinkle in her eye that suggests she really isn’t that negative.

She offered up some more grounded and fresh material, with one of her own songs, “Just What You Do,” and two by her pianist/musical director Tracy Stark: “Life’s Been Kind” and that not-so-serious “Coffee,” all of which are due to be included on her upcoming solo album.

All of this is backed up with a generous helping of personal tales, including projected comments from her Twitter page, concerning everything from the Paleo diet to menopause (commemorated by Reinhagen’s transformation of Irving Berlin’s “Heat Wave” into “Tropical Hot Flash”).
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Director Barry Kleinbort helped to keep the show humming along, but it is Reinhagen’s personality and smart approach to everyday woes that sends the material into the stratosphere.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."