Denise Tomasello: To Chicago with Love

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Denise Tomasello

To Chicago with Love

Drury Lane, Oakbrook, IL, August 4, 2018

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes

Denise Tomasello

Peas and carrots, nightclubs and Denise Tomasello—they fit together as well as one of Tomasello’s designer gowns fits her. There was little wonder that “Chicago’s Cabaret Queen” Denise Tomasello was chosen to launch Drury Lane Oakbrook’s new summer cabaret series in its elegant English Room.

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 When surveyed by the diva herself, the full house was a mix of loyal fans and Drury Lane theater goers making first forays into cabaret. All appeared to be under her spell.

 Nicely accompanied by Jeremy Kahn on piano and Jim Cox on bass, signature numbers prevailed. “I Don’t Remember Christmas” is fierce.

 “Peel Me a Grape,” sung atop the white baby grand, is classic Tomasello: this diva wants what she wants. “The Man That Got Away” is powerful in quieter moments when the singer forgoes sass to reflect longing and regret. At a Tomasello show, especially in this cozy room, the real magic happens in between songs as Tomasello schmoozes the crowd. There’s a wisecrack or acknowledgement of fellow entertainers, local dignitaries, or new listeners.

A young man sitting ringside munching on one of Lucille’s Restaurant’s savory plates says to Tomasello, “Hey, I’m Italian just like you!

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” Without missing a beat, she replied. “Ah, then you must live with your mother.” The audience roared. Her closing with “Once Before I Go” felt just right.

Carla Gordon

Carla Gordon is a singer/songwriter, director, and producer. The Chicago Tribune cited her among “Chicago’s most accomplished cabaret performers….a major player in Chicago cabaret.” Reviewer Pam Peterson called her “Honey-voiced wisecracker!” Ageless Magazine called her performance as Sophie tucker, “A gem!” Gordon writes custom material for singers nationwide. Her flagship show, "Blacklisted," featuring songs made famous by artists blacklisted under McCarthyism, has toured to critical acclaim. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Cabaret Professionals and on the Advisory Board of the Skokie Theater. Her songs air on WFMT’s Midnight Special and are being performed performed by cabaret artists nationwide.