Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: ANITA GILLETTE & PENNY FULLER Are A Wonder in SIN TWISTERS at 54 Below

pixeltracker

Anita Gillette & Penny Fuller Successfully Retool Their Hit Show

BWW Review: ANITA GILLETTE & PENNY FULLER Are A Wonder in SIN TWISTERS at 54 Below

Penny Fuller may have had the quote of the evening when she and Anita Gillette unveiled the new version of their show SIN TWISTERS. She was quoting the great Barbara Cook, who said "I wish someone had told me I was working in The Golden Age. I would have paid attention." That is a mouthful. Anita Gillette (Carnival, All-American, Mr. President, They're Playing Our Song, Chapter Two) and Penny Fuller (Applause, Rex, A New Brain, The Dinner Party, Anastasia) brought a bit of The Golden Age to the stage of Feinstein's 54 Below. And the audience paid attention. In fact, the audience was spellbound.

The name of their show, SIN TWISTERS is a Spoonerism for "Twin Sisters." Despite obvious physical differences: Anita Gillette is small and bubbly, Fuller is tall and statuesque, fans have mistaken them for each other for years. Their show sets the record straight on who is who as they sing songs and tell stories about their 50 years on Broadway and on television and in films. But most endearingly, their show is about their close friendship. Although they have traveled in the same circles for decades, they only met 8 years ago when they were mutually invited to a party. They have been fast friends ever since.

BWW Review: ANITA GILLETTE & PENNY FULLER Are A Wonder in SIN TWISTERS at 54 Below

Their show started with Bock & Harnick's "Friends" combined with Walter Marks' "We Got Us." With barely a pause, they followed this with Qunicy Jones' "Miss Celie's Blues (Sister)" from The Color Purple. Ms. Gillette regaled us with a story of how she got into show business, singing "That Terrific Rainbow" from Pal Joey. Ms. Fuller did the same, giving us her first audition with "A Wonderful Guy" from South Pacific. She continued with one of my favorite songs, "Make the Man Love Me" from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." Ms. Gillette closed out this section with a story about her first big role in The Gay Life, where her song, her scene, and her part were all cut out of town. She had the last laugh though by singing Barbara Cook's gorgeous number from the show, "Magic Moment."

The second half of the show was a more loosely structured look at some of their Broadway triumphs and tragedies. Penny Fuller sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" explaining that she always associated New York with the glittering town of Oz. Anita Gillette sang "Oh, Gee" from Jimmy, telling us the song, a series of rapid-fire lyrics, was hastily written and rehearsed in a single afternoon in Philadelphia to cover for a problematic scene change. She followed this with one of her big hits, the haunting "Once Upon a Time" from All-American. It is such a treat to see an actor perform a song they have lived with for a long time. Ms. Gillette's performance was exquisite. You could have heard a pin drop.

The two ladies gave us a treat with Irving Berlin's "Pack Up Your Sins." Anita Gillette had another beautiful moment with "I'll Never Go There Any More," a thoughtful delight of a song from the infamous Kelly, which opened and closed in one night. Penny Fuller gave us what is surely her signature song, "One Hallowe'en" from Applause. She left no doubt why she was nominated for a Tony for this role. It was a performance full of fire, first smoldering and then fully ablaze.

One of Gilette and Fuller's many similarities that cause confusion among fans is they both starred as Sally Bowles in the original production of Cabaret. The finale of their show was a medley of tunes from that show. It was worth the price of admission to hear both of them do their imitation of the great Lotte Lenya. After thunderous applause, they were recalled to the stage for an encore of Cole Porter's "You're the Top," with new topical lyrics written by their wonderful director, Barry Kleinbort. Among the new dignitaries in the modified lyrics were Michelle Obama and Pete Buttigieg.

Speaking of Barry Kleinbort, his direction of the evening was sharp and wonderful. Musical director, David Gaines, and bass player, Ritt Henn did amazing work with the dozen or so songs. Gaines even added some spice by singing "Two Ladies" in the Cabaret medley. SIN TWISTERS was a wonder from start to finish. Anita Gillette and Penny Fuller take such delight in each other's company, it is impossible not to share in their mutual admiration society. I am grateful to them both for sharing their marvelous stories with me.

BWW Review: ANITA GILLETTE & PENNY FULLER Are A Wonder in SIN TWISTERS at 54 Below

For more information on Anita Gillette follow her @GilletteAnita on Twitter. To learn more about Penny Fuller follow her @silverwolf_nz on Twitter. For other great acts at 54 Below, visit 54below.com


Related Articles View More Cabaret Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

From This Author Ricky Pope