Camille Diamond: Over the Moon… On Pluto Transit

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Camille Diamond

Over the Moon… On Pluto Transit

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, February 25, 2024

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Camille Diamond
Photo: Conor Weiss

Recent Mama’s Next BIG Act! semi-finalist Camille Diamond has created her first full cabaret show, Over the Moon… On Pluto Transit, and a lovely show it was. Using the unique theme of the planets and their effect on our lives, she took that idea and personalized it. Under the guidance of director Lennie Watts, she opened her heart to the audience as she reviewed aspects of her life through her stories and her songs, which were a wonderfully varied collection. Diamond possesses a soaring voice and a great sense of humor, and she added some surprising dance steps as well. These were all on display during the evening.

She opened with a seamless medley of “No Matter What You Sing You Are” (Berry Gordy/Henry “Hank” Cosby), “Aquarius” (James Rado/Gerome Ragni/Galt MacDermot), and “Interplanet Janet” (Lynn Ahrens). This was a perfect opening for this show with its mix of joy, humor, and thematic relevance. It was followed by a very clever revision of Kander and Ebb’s “Roxie,” retitled “Pluto,” with new lyrics by Diamond and well-delivered dance moves à la Bob Fosse. Pluto is a vital part of her horoscope, hence this explanatory number. She followed with something in a more traditional vein: Peter Mills’ “Cautiously Optimistic”; it allowed Diamond to show off her ability to build a song and offer it to the audience like a glowing gem.

Keeping up with every shift in mood was her excellent musical team of music director/pianist Steven Ray Watkins, bassist Tom Hubbard, and drummer Don Kelly. They embraced each musical style with expertise, from the surprisingly soft, moody interpretation of a medley of “Paint It Black” (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards) and “Back to Black” (Amy Winehouse/Mark Ronson)—not names usually associated with cabaret—to the joyous sarcasm of “You Mustn’t Be Discouraged” (Jule Styne/Comden & Green), complete with some Michael Bennett-inspired dance steps.

Diamond showed a great ability throughout the show to deliver lyrics with both sensitivity and understanding. She displayed notable artistry in her performance of “When October Goes” (Johnny Mercer/Barry Manilow), a true highlight of the evening. A blend of “Circle of Life” (Elton John/Tim Rice) and “A Child Is Born” (Thad Jones/Alec Wilder) was grand cabaret. In the first of these she proved that she didn’t need a parade of elephants across the stage to make the song a standout. A truly touching moment came when she shared Stevie Wonder’s “Happier Than the Morning Sun” with her daughter, Lily Krebs. Diamond is a valuable new member of the cabaret community with much more to come.

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."