Thursday, 29 June 2017

Review Lorna Dallas: Home Again

Lorna Dallas: Home Again
Live At Zédel
Director Barry Kleinbort
Musical Director Jason Carr

Passion and Purity

Lorna Dallas is a rare talent  as an amazing operatically trained American singer who has turned her impeccable technical and emotionally true talent to musicals and jazz.

Elsewhere in the West End another classically trained American soprano is showing her versatility and wowing punters, making London a special place this June. For in the heart of Piccadilly there is also a unique chance to see and hear Dallas who paved the way many decades ago in London.

The art-deco Zédel cabaret room proves an elegant backdrop for Lorna Dallas, an equally elegant lady in turquoise silk, a confirmed Anglophile, returning to London after a long absence - too long.

While she does a duet with her English accompanist and arranger, Tony award nominee Jason Carr, with Stephen Sondheim's You're Gonna Love Me Tomorrow from Follies, much of the solo programme has clever song pairings ranging from the classic American songbook to some undeservedly lesser known songs (at least for TLT and her own engine-humming automotive accompanist! :) ).

Carefully structured, it's a set that, like all the best cabaret acts, has a subtle narrative. Lorna Dallas, who made her name here as Magnolia in Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's Show Boat to Dame Cleo Laine's Julie in the 1970s, lets us know her powerful but tender soprano is back in business in London.

Teaming up Sunset Boulevard's beautiful ballad As If We Never Said Goodbye  - from Brits Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Don Black of course - with Sondheim's jaunty Back In Business gives punters a first taste of her vocal and emotional range from the outset.

The Gershwins, Kander and Ebb, Kern and Fields, Berlin, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Jerry Herman and Amanda McBroom all figure in Dallas's love letter to London.

However it's also surely a tribute to her British music agent husband, the late Garry Brown, with her brilliantly understated moving rendition of director Barry Kleinbort's poignant One More Spring from his musical 13 Things About Ed Carpolotti.

Other songs include the theme from the film The Picasso Summer by Michel Legrand and Alan Bergman, Summer Me, Winter Me, and the ingenious and lovely Chain of Love from musical The Glass Harp by Claibe Richardson and Kenward Elmslie, paired with I Think I'm In Love  from Ralph Chicorel's Anna Karenina.

But Dallas can also pack the musical equivalent of a software Easter Egg in the midst of a song, demonstrating the versatility of an Ivor Novello/Christopher Hassall golden oldie, so suited to her soaring soprano, when she briefly breaks into scat singing.

A glorious set of 22 songs encompasses too the only PG Wodehouse, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein Showboat collaboration, Bill, about which she tells a wonderful anecdote where in a magic moment unusually from stage left during a performance she managed to spy on Cleo Laine's rendition.

In the first half of the show, her soaring soprano sometimes seems almost to outdo the microphone but this is just a hint of the power which she reins back under perfect control in songs like the 1932 Irving Berlin standard How Deep Is The Ocean.

Dallas brings her warm, precise tone and strength of feeling to  mellifluous romantic melodies like Rogers and Hammerstein's Younger Than Springtime, the exquisite A Timeless Thing - by Tom Snow, Amanda McBroom and Garry Brown with a special personal significance - and Let's Not Waste A Moment from Jerry Herman's Milk And Honey in which she was cast  in summer stock back in 1970.

 With one more performance, Lorna Dallas is a definite treat on American Independence Day next Tuesday, July 4 when, for we Brits,  her talent alone gives us something to celebrate and it's a sparkling green light. 

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