Gloria Bangiola: A Little Broad

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Gloria Bangiola

A Little Broad

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, February 9, 2024

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Gloria Bangiola

In A Little Broad, her sophomore outing as a cabaret artist, Gloria Bangiola repeatedly advised the audience that “she’s a bit too much,” or used variations on that theme. Musically, she’s on very solid ground with a strong soprano, whether singing songs by MIKA, Jimmy Webb, Paul Simon, or Cy Coleman. She gets great support from music director John Fischer, who provided some dandy and smart medleys, and she even demonstrated her fine control of the guitar on several numbers to vary the instrumental diet. It was only in the patter that she hit some problems; perhaps director Scott Robertson could have assisted there.

The evening kicked off with an upbeat opening medley of “It’s Today,” “What About Today?,” and “After Today,” that allowed Bangiola to immediately win over the audience with her energy and good spirits. A later equally clever medley named “The Mediocre Men Medley” consisted of “Bill,” “My Funny Valentine,” and “More Than You Know, ; it allowed her to expand her emotional scope as she went from one song to the next. For musical-theater fans it was a treat to hear the original P.G. Wodehouse lyrics for “Bill” rather than the later, and more familiar lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. In between was the very weird “Grace Kelly” by MIKA and “Look at That Face,” which allowed her to demonstrate her skill with lyrics and, unfortunately, her tendency to be a bit precious. However, Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” revealed a surprising depth of emotion, and “I Think I Love You” exposed a wonderful campy side; it was  well paired with the more serious but emotionally adjacent “I Keep It Hid” by Jimmy Webb. That was smart cabaret. “Sixteen Tons” was certainly a surprise entry in the song list of the evening, but Bangiola made it work.

Bangiola’s special guest for the evening was Avery Nusbaum, who brought high energy to the stage just by being there. Her “Make Your Own Kind of Music” was a joyous highlight of the night. The friendship and mutual admiration between the two singers was evident, but their duet of “Suddenly Seymour” was perhaps one weirdness too far; it just didn’t make sense even though they harmonized well. Then we were back to Bangiola advising us that “she was a lot” without further explanation. The audience finally heard a personal story about her grandmother, the first of the evening, that made her rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” more meaningful. It made a great difference. A lovely encore followed, on which Bangiola accompanied herself on guitar for a medley of “Good Riddance” (Green Day) and “The Only Living Boy in New York” (Paul Simon). Musically, Bangiola is on very firm ground; now she just needs to bring her script up to the same level for true excellence.

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."