Show Business - NYC Live - Judy Kaye at Arci's Place

by Frank K. Darmstadt

From the moment she comes on stage in a black outfit and pearls, you know Judy Kaye will amuse and move you, sometimes at the same time. To the delight of many in the audience, Kaye sings out in the Merman way: feet planted firmly on the ground, head up and voice projected out to the back row (if only Arci's Place had a back row).

Actually, Kaye appears more modest and vulnerable than Ethel Merman. Beginning her eclectic set with the standard "Shining Hour," she impresses with a pair of the most honest eyes you will ever see on a musical stage. Not one false note nor one unnecessary gesture creeps in to this neat, emotionally satisfying program. Running the gamut from ballads ("After You, Who?") to uproarious farce ("I Never Do Anything Twice," "The Sheik of Avenue B"), the Tony-winning soprano of The Phantom of the Opera pulls out all of the dramatic and comedic stops to entertain you. Singing Kurt Weill's poignant lyrics, Kaye hushes the room with an eloquent rendition of "It Never Was You," a bittersweet song from Knickerbocker Holiday, covered memorably by Judy Garland in 1960. It is the proverbial 360 degree turn from her lusty "I Never Do Anything Twice," a Sondheim soliloquy written for a bemused madam in the film The Seven Percent Solution. It is a treat to see Kaye reclining atop the piano - fan in hand and leg exposed from her split shirt - teasing the crowd with masochistic recollections of her "Catholic taste" in liaisons.

Backed by the tasteful accompaniments of Michael Horsley, the show ends with an abrupt version of the too-performed "Our Love is Here to Stay." A better choice would be the preceding song - the under-performed "Don't Like Goodbyes" - a tune from House of Flowers that is meltingly lovely in Kaye's confident hands.

Judy Kaye's new show, Solo, is one event you should definitely experience twice.

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