March 9-15, 2006
theaterThree for the Show
Ah, well. New times, new divas.
The ever adventurous and supportive people at 1812 are taking this opportunity to showcase three talented young women Amorika Amoroso, Sarah Bolt and Kimberly Rehfuss who represent a new breed. They dress casually. They joke around. And while all three sing very well, their material only occasionally brushes the expected theater standards. You see, these women are from a generation that produced Urinetown. (Amoroso casually mentions Silence of the Lambs: The Musical in particular, a song called "Put the Fucking Lotion in the Basket," which I guarantee you won't find on the next Karen Akers CD.)
Is this progress? Judge for yourselves.
Kimberly Rehfuss has the most polished delivery also a really together voice, which can belt and sing soprano with equal ease. Her set explores her vocal self-discovery, taking us through a medley of TV theme songs, a terrific Julie Andrews impression and a moment when Julie meets Black Sabbath. Rehfuss concludes with Rodgers and Hart's sublime "Bewitched" it's a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, she explains, who taught her how to tell a story. Maybe, but though Rehfuss sings the piece beautifully, she never finds its sardonic core.
Sarah Bolt hasn't Rehfuss's polish, but she has something else a quirky charm reminiscent of comedienne Sara Rue, and a conversational, penetrating way with a song. Bolt's haunting performance of Joni Mitchell's "River" was the highlight of the evening for me. Too bad she spends so much time mocking her lack of dancing ability, and launching rather pointless family stories.
And, finally, Amorika Amoroso, who is in every way the wild card. The lady can shout the blues like nobody's business, and has searingly funny stories about the life of an actress in New York. There's a ferocity here that starts funny, but soon Amoroso seems on the verge of spinning out of control.
The three singers appeared together on opening night. Future performances feature one singer each evening, which will likely work better. Seen collectively, there was an eerie sense of similar themes too much autobiography; alternating defiance and self-deprecation; poor body image.
About the latter really, about all of it these women should learn from the masterful, sexy Jilline Ringle, who died last year and to whom Marvelous is dedicated. And learn they will. 1812 is launching a solo performance fund in Ringle's memory (contributions can be made at www.1812.org).
PERFECTLY MARVELOUS: AN 1812 CABARET FESTIVAL Through March 26, 1812 Productions at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St., 215-592-9560