BWW Review: TWO LOST SOULS Walk Into a Bar in Jane Lynch & Kate Flannery's Cafe Carlyle Debut
The pair found something special in one another in the late '80s, and after all those years, they know exactly how to highlight their symbiotic sensibilities, as evident in their current duo show, TWO LOST SOULS, at Café Carlyle. But before the stars took the stage on September 11, the crowd was greeted by the band, including musical director Tony Guerrero on piano, Mark Visher on saxophone and flute, Rich Zurkowski on bass, and Sean McDaniel on drums. "Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I'm not Jane Lynch," Guerrero joked, taking up the trumpet for the opening number. In a sort of unorthodox move, they performed "When You're Smiling" as a sort of prelude, with Guerrero doing an uncomfortable vocal impression of Louis Armstrong.
Once Flannery and Lynch took over the proceedings, though, the show moved along at quite a clip, with no time for ballads, as they demonstrated immediately. After singing a few bars a capella, they cut themselves off, ratcheting up the tempo on "Far from the Home I Love" from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. Without one moment where their energy lagged, it was elevator pitch cabaret, giving the best, most energetic schtick they had. And, what'll you know, the ol' razzle dazzle worked- quite well, in fact.
Of course, it helps when there are two of you onstage to carry the weight, and their good-natured banter was clearly rehearsed without ever feeling overly practiced. Besides, when one of them would take full control on a number, the other might just take a breather, sitting down onstage so as not to block the view.
Flannery turned "Good King Wenceslas" into Good King What's-His-Name, though his last name is less confusing than the decision to sing what is ostensibly a Christmas song in September, a fact that they acknowledged without further explanation. Lest you think that they were using it as a traditional folk song and not specifically a Christmas tune, Flannery even sang tweaked lyrics about more modern holiday activities, at one point rhyming "sweet and sour" with charging "by the hour."
While it often best embodied an old-fashioned variety show, that didn't mean they couldn't work blue. When Lynch jokingly demanded that her fellow performer stop "controlling the audience's expectations, Flannery fired back, "People love to be told what to do, especially when they're paying for it." They leaned into their personas, mostly conflating Flannery and her character on THE OFFICE, like joking that she was "sponsored by Jameson" or saying this of her 12-year relationship: "Love... is very short." Lynch joked about being the "more Sapphic" member of the duo, tipping her hat to longtime collaborator Christopher Guest with covers of The Folksmen's "The Skeletons Of Quinto" from A MIGHTY MIND.
The featherlight show continued to bop along, with Lynch and Flannery mixing in lively, faithful covers of eclectic choices like "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (Verna Felton) and "Mambo Italiano" (Bob Merrill), before starting to draw the show to a close singing "The Party's Over" (Jule Styne), with the encore proving to be the only part of the show that felt a bit padded.
While they followed it up with a hokey rendition of Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" that felt a bit out of step with the current cultural moment, they would've been best to call it quits with their medley of songs that made them cry as a kid, a sweet, Mr. Rogers-esque feeling fest. An homage, they said, to the day the opener fell on, Flannery and Lynch melding songs like "Puff the Magic Dragon," Michael Jackson's "Ben" and "Seasons in the Sun," until Flannery began "killing the vibe" with her selection, Bing Crosby's "Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Nai," until Lynch cried, "You're even more deranged than I thought!"
Well, as she herself said teeing up the medley, "I needed to laugh today." It sure is great that these two lost souls found one another and that they brought their weird, funny friendship onstage, too.
TWO LOST SOULS runs at the Café Carlyle through Sept. 22. All shows are at 8:45 P.M. For tickets and information, visit www.rosewoodhotels.com.
Troy Frisby is an entertainment writer and digital news producer based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @TroyFrisby.