Gracie Lee Brown: Say Goodnight Gracie: The Many Faced Goddess

Gracie Lee Brown

Say Goodnight Gracie: The Many-Faced Goddess

The Duplex, NYC, January 28, 2018

Reviewed by Randolph B. Eigenbrode for Cabaret Scenes

Gracie Lee Brown

The most exciting thing about seeing cabaret shows regularly is watching young talent grow and evolve. Gracie Lee Brown’s debut proved she had an “uncharacteristic handle on comedy” and, almost a year later, she’s sung around town, competed in Mama’s Next BIG Act! (ending in the Top 5) and, moreover, refined her act. Indeed, Brown has still the comedy goods, but the quiet confidence that’s emerged has taken her from newcomer girl to cabaret lady.

Donning a red dress and an oversized red flower in her hair, Brown took the stage in her own rendition of “Hello, Dolly!” (Jerry Herman), eventually leading the audience in a lively sing-along of “Well hello, Gracie.” Indeed, it was clear that this edition would have Brown pulling out all the comedy stops.

But what a difference a year makes. Brown’s performance style has developed new restraint, eschewing most of the underlined punchlines and ever-present exclamation marks that seemed to bog down some of the fun.  She can still re-lyric with the best—particularly in a hilarious attack of Taylor Swift’s live vocal abilities in “I Knew You Were Trouble” (Taylor Swift/Max Martion/Shellback)—yet, she allows the lyrics to do their job, giving her the freedom to just have fun. She brought the house down with a medley of Hamilton songs sung by puppets that told the story of Salamander Hammerhead and the three mermaids in love with him. (See it to believe it.)

Yet, it’s the ballads that have grown most. “Sunlight,” an original by her MD, Thomas Hodges (understated and charming as always), reverberated in its quiet simplicity, and “Someone to Watch Over Me” (George & Ira Gershwin) let Brown navigate both the wistful longing and sly humor that’s so rarely explored. Even her intonation and phrasing have new clarity and, perhaps, for the first time you realize what a strong vocalist she is.

If this new Gracie has emerged after only a year, one can only imagine what treasures the cabaret world will receive in a decade.

Randolph B. Eigenbrode

Randolph is the newest addition to the writing staff at Cabaret Scenes. He is a cabaret teacher, previously teaching with legend Erv Raible, and his students have gone on to success in the field with sold-out shows and many awards. He is also a director and that, combined with a knowledge of the art form and techniques that cabaret performing encompasses, makes him love reviewing NYC’s cabaret scene. When not catching the Big Apple’s crazy talent, Randolph loves 1970s variety shows, mall Chinese food, Meryl Streep films and a good cold glass of pinot grigio.