BWW Reviews: Neile Adams Scores in her Songfest Cabaret at the Gardenia
Neile Adams show Wasn't It Good! Wasn't It Fine! at Tom Rolla's Gardenia in West Hollywood was nothing short of 'AMAZING'. The choice of her material was absolutely delicious, as you will soon find out.
Her great support came from her longtime director, the charming yet humorous Ted Sprague, and her musical director, the ever-competent Andy Howe. Her topnotch musical backup included Karl Vincent on bass, and Steve Pemberton on drums, as well as the aforementioned Andy Howe on piano. With Seana Golden on lights and sound, her company was complete. Looking lovely in her black sequined pants suit, the first thing Neile did was give the credits for her act, to get them out of the way, so there would be no interruption into the musical path she planned, other than the very interesting footnotes she gave to each and every song.
Her sense of love and respect for Broadway was evident in her choice of material. She began with a lovely rendition of "Look For The Silver Lining" by Jerome Kern. Then she took the pale orange boa that was lying on the piano and did a terrific version of "Shaking The Blues Away" by Irving Berlin… you have never seen better boa choreography! Following this was the verse I was not too familiar with to "Remember", another Irving Berlin, in a most moving arrangement. I am amazed at the quality of her 'acting' these songs so brilliantly. Just after this one, her son and his party arrived as he gave his mom a kiss while going to his seat… a warm and fuzzy interruption. Her "Arthur In The Afternoon" by Kander and Ebb was just perfect for her petite yet saucy personality. She then introduced "I'm In Love With You, Honey" from Her Highness and the Bellboy by Symour Simons, Richard Whiting and Haven Gillespie… the song that June Allyson sang in the film. Neile then paid homage to "The Gentleman Is a Dope" from Allegro by Rodgers & Hammerstein, explaining that sometimes 'the star' doesn't always get to sing the hit song in a show. She recited the verse of "Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific, another Rodgers & Hammerstein, but didn't sing the song, stating that so many others have sung it better. She then went on to introduce "That's For Me" from State Fair, her third Rodgers & Hammerstein.
A very touching moment occurred when she dedicated "Que Sabes Tu?" ("What Do You Know?"), which she sang in Spanish, to the memory of her mother. And I still have to say that when she 'feels' a song, which she did so many times throughout the evening… she really 'FEELS' it. This was followed by "Big Time" from Jerry Herman's Mack & Mabel, which I still think is his best score ever. The song included a delightful patter. "I Know Him So Well" from Chess by Tim Rise, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus melded beautifully into "Unusual Way" from Maury Yeston's Nine, and then melded back again to "I Know Him So Well"… what an absolutely beautiful arrangement and Neile performed it flawlessly, her acting ability again perfect. "When in Rome (I Do As The Romans Do)" by Cy Coleman again brought out the seductive side of her own personality. Back to serious with "The Child In Me" by Ann Dinerman. Adding yet another wonderful 'patter' to "You're Just Too Marvelous" by Richard Whiting and Johnny Mercer, she always left the audience wanting more… and then came back and gave it to them.
Her finale was "Seesaw" by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields, another great acting song, which she did so well. Neile did come back and sing an encore of "Grand Knowing You" from She Loves Me by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. And then it was over… a pity… but she entertained us for well over an hour, and she could not have done more in the way of showing her talents, emotions, acting ability, and so much more… everything wrapped up in this adorable, petite, charming, and beautiful body called Neile Adams.
review by Stan Mazin