Category: Editorial

Cabaret Review: Jenifer Lewis

Fucking brilliant! Magnificent! Girl got chops! And those are just the reviews diva Jenifer Lewis claims to have received from Lena Horne, Sidney Poitier and Aretha Franklin. Being the modest soul she is, Lewis doesn’t contradict them – and neither will I! As I’ve been reporting, the recently opened 54 Below has had a steady stream of legendary cabaret acts from downtown “superstars” and Broadway veterans, and Lewis’s may just be the hottest one yet.

When I say that Jenifer Lewis is modest, I am being incredibly facetious – she opens the act with a roaring number titled “Look at Me” and only gets bigger from there. That opening number, like several others throughout the act, was written by Hairspray and “Smash” composer Marc Shaiman, who is also at the piano (and is also in the middle of writing songs for the second season of “Smash” – where does he find the time)!

Lewis has been away from the New York cabaret scene for over 20 years, but you wouldn’t know it from this hilarious and pyrotechnic act. Lewis bravely talks about her past struggles with bipolar disorder, to the tune of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”, and also spends a fair amount of time just basking in the pure joys of being a singing sensation, in Shaiman-penned tunes such as “Sang Bitch” and “The 11 O’Clock Number”.

But the songs are almost secondary to her fire-breathing, thrillingly spontaneous patter. Lewis is a diva and a half, a force of nature, with an enormous, booming voice, and a wicked, almost terrifying sense of humor. She’s also capable of burrowing into a ballad – I’ve never heard anyone tell the story of cabaret standard “Here’s to Life” with such touching clarity. Jenifer’s back! And not to be missed!

For tickets, click here.

For more reviews and interviews by Jonathan Warman, see his blog Drama Queen. 

Underground Thursday: "L'amore è femmina (Out of Love)" by Nina Zilli

Tomorrow night, Friday, July 27, I will be DJing at the Lush & Lively cocktail hour at the Time Out New York Lounge at New World Stages 340 West 50th Street (between 8th & 9th Ave) from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM. The music emphasizes horns and strings, so there will be jazz (classic and “nu”), latin, international orchestral and big band pop (like this groovy Italian Eurovision entry) and – of course – lots and lots of disco. The Cosmo special is only $3 from 6:30PM to 7:00 PM, and there are $5 drink specials until 9:00 PM.
Find the Nina Zilli video below.

Theatre Review: "Love. Guts. High School."

In Jeanette Bonner’s one-woman show Love Guts High School, Bonner takes us back to her own high school days to take a look at first love. There are lots of “first love” stories out there, but Bonner’s gets a little extra grit from its painful honesty confronting the consequences when that first love doesn’t exactly return your feelings. The boy who is the apple of young Jeanette’s eye likes her well enough to sleep with her, but not well enough to be there for her.

While that sounds a bit depressing, I’m happy to say this solo show is actually a ruefully comic reflection on adolescent naivete. Bonner is a magnetic and precise performer, and has more than a little wit as a writer. When we first see her, she is trying to decide if the boy loves her back, not by plucking petals off a flower, but by consulting a Magic 8 Ball that she manhandles until it tells her what she wants to hear. These kind of quirky details help maintain our interest.

Bonner has a flair for the theatrical that isn’t fully integrated with the form of the show. She presents us with scene after scene in which she bares her heart to a series of unseen listeners. But in these scenes, she very often breaks into a multi-character storytelling style, which doesn’t quite jibe with idea that she is carrying on a casual conversation.

In a scene late in the show, she self-consciously talks about her love life to a bus full of tourists – it is one of the evening’s most engaging and funny moments. It would improve the show considerably if Bonner could figure out a way to expand this self-dramatizing approach, painting herself even larger-than-life than she already has. That said, she already has an compact, entertaining show. Not deeply insightful, but not thoughtless either.

For tickets, click here.

For more reviews and interviews by Jonathan Warman, see his blog Drama Queen.

Daily Dapper: Chic-Fil-A Chokes Its Own Chicken With Bad PR

If you live in a bath house and don’t travel out too often, you may not realize we are going head on into upcoming elections which means we are already seeing the political shit show that is our federal government and candidates pitting groups against each other to get votes. The gays seem to be the number one (if not, we’re definitely high up there) foe to America these days along with President Obama’s health care law according to the right wing nut job Republicans and Bible thumping lunatics. All of the other bullshit aside, one case in particular is pretty hilarious when it comes to a group putting itself in a corner with little friends to aid it.
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Politiqueer: What if… Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo both run for President in 2016?

What if Wednesday? Would it be Clinton or Cuomo for President?

The latest Quinnipiac University poll  shows that New Yorkers love Governor Andrew Cuomo, but they like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even more.

So what if, Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo were in a contest to win the Democratic primary (in say, 2016).  Who would New York voters pick even if it meant losing the other?

The answer seems to be clear.  Most would go for Hillary Clinton.  Quinnipiac released these findings:

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