Sierra Rein: Running in Place

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Sierra Rein

Running in Place

Laurie Beechman Theatre, NYC, May 12, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

jpg” alt=”” width=”212″ height=”212″ /> Sierra Rein

Stepping out from her long association with Marquee Five, Sierra Rein made her solo New York City cabaret debut. And it was clearly very overdue. Sassy, touching, intelligent, beautifully gowned, she simply conquered the stage.

Establishing her persona with her opening number, “Right Hand Man” (Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick), she is someone who doesn’t take herself too seriously while exhibiting perfect comic timing and a touch of sexiness. She also showed a talent for finding songs that fit within the Great American Songbook, but are just slightly off beat and less known.

And oh, does she know how to build a number: “Come On-a My House (Ross Bagdasarian/William Saroyan) transforms from saucy to sizzling, while the feelings inherent in “By Myself” (Arthur Schwartz/Howard Dietz) built to an emotional payoff with the skill and confidence of a Judy Garland or Barbra Streisand.

Relating the songs to her own adventures in life and love, she found great humor in unhappy romances—“Baltimore” (Zina Goldrich/Marcy Heisler), a lyric that deftly rhymes “marry and carry ‘em” with “aquarium,” and emotion in career frustrations—“Running in Place” (John Kander/Fred Ebb) that let her show off some impressive jazz scatting skills. And she expressed satisfaction in her present life in a surprising combination of a Stephen Sondheim duo: “Now You Know” and “Move On” that also showed off her soaring head voice.

Earlier in the show she also found an imaginative combination of two unlikely songs: “Very Good Advice” (Sammy Fain/Bob Hilliard, from the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland) with Dave Frishberg’s “Listen Here.” Another highlight was a brilliantly acted and torched “Nothing Really Happened” (Craig Carnelia).

Under the excellent direction of James Beaman, Rein used the entire stage very well and had great interaction with music director Bill Zeffiro, bassist Matt Scharfglass, and drummer Rex Benincasa. Hopefully, she won’t take so long to create her second solo show.

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."