Review: Diane D'Angelo Lands Happily at The Laurie Beechman Theatre in DESTINATION MOON

After a long hiatus, beloved cabaret artist Diane D'Angelo has returned to the nightclub stage.

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Renowned cabaret artist Diane D'Angelo made her long-awaited return to the nightclub stage with her first post-lockdown show DESTINATION MOON, and although the moon (as D'Angelo details in her dialogue) is one of the few places to which she has never traveled, on March 22nd, the destination for the rest of the cabaret industry was the Laurie Beechman Theatre. Everyone has been waiting for the Diane D'Angelo show and everyone showed up. Everywhere you looked, you could see a respected artist from the industry. Award nominees and winners alike filled the 42nd Street venue, and their enthusiastic response to each of Diane's musical numbers and, indeed, the entire show was a strong indication that she has been missed, that she is welcome back, and that her show is good. What a nice way to make a return.

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For her return to the cabaret stage, Ms. D'Angelo has gathered around her respected colleagues with whom she has long relationships, and, as the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. With prolific proficient Lina Koutrakos in the Director's chair and the Gregory Toroian Trio (Toroian on piano, Skip Ward on bass, and David Silliman on drums) providing impressive and impeccable accompaniment, D'Angelo comes out swinging, and she connects. She connects to the lyrics, she connects to the arrangements, she connects to the audience. D'Angelo is a skilled vocalist, but it's more than the vocals that give her the reputation she has earned. There is not one number in her show that does not put on display acting choices both solid and interesting, even when the arrangement around which a song has been structured is one of Mr. Toroian's well-documented jazz treatments. Indeed, for the first few numbers of Destination Moon, there is every indication that this is going to be a jazz set, which would be fine because Diane D'Angelo understands Toroian's musical vocabulary. Some singers may find themselves behind the 8 ball with such intricate jazz arrangements, but the combination of D'Angelo and a Toroian treatment is as strong as Dionne Warwick singing Burt Bacharach. Obviously, a full jazz set would have been an enjoyable night of music... except that isn't what Diane D'Angelo had in mind.

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In a series of monologues ranging on topics from the love of travel to dating during the age in which we live to being inspired by a legendary singer, Diane D'Angelo has crafted a program reminiscent of a musical tasting menu. The variety of life stories is matched equally by the different genres of music being presented, from some torchy Porter ( an intriguing "Love For Sale") to some bluesy Marcovicci ( a fun "My Man's Ridin' in the Moonlight") and back around to some bona fide Broadway ( a moving "Omar Sharif"). When it is appropriate and artistically sound, the arrangements are jazz-based, but when authentic to the moment, the performances are allowed an opportunity to stand on their own, needing no more than what the authors provided and Diane created, like one of the evening highlights, a gorgeous rendition of "Will Someone Ever Look At Me That Way" that stepped well out of the shadow of the legendary lady who, first, sang the song, without embellishment. With absolute confidence and enviable stage presence, Diane D'Angelo commands the stage and every musical offering, whatever the originating genre, as evidenced by a sexy performance of Corinne Bailey Rae's "Like A Star" that stood out from every other musical presentation in the show as being different, as being individual, as being special. There is much to be admired about Destination Moon. It was a fine and fair evening of cabaret storytelling, save for one bizarre moment when Ms. D'Angelo lost her way in her script (which happens to everyone) and Musical Director Toroian appeared to refuse her plea for assistance, referencing that he had to "fix everything." If it was a joke, it didn't land. If it wasn't a joke, it was an uncomfortable exchange that didn't only eclipse the moment that directly preceded it (a stunning musical tribute to the late Rick Jensen), it stole attention away from Mr. Toroian's work as arranger and pianist, which had, previously, been the primary quality of his presence on the stage. One hopes that a staff meeting between the Destination Moon creatives might help prevent a similarly awkward display during future performances of the praise-worthy musical cabaret.

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Particularly praiseworthy is Diane D'Angelo herself, who refers to herself as "seasoned" in a charming joke about her age, but this seasoning is more than that which a person acquires with tenure - the world travel, the people she has known, the experiences she has had, the experiences on stage that she has had - all of it adds seasoning, which is why the degree of Diane's abilities as a storyteller is so high. The voice is a delicate soprano voice that inspires emotions and empathy, but even in its delicacy, this is not a weak voice. This is not a tentative voice. This is a strong, confident, empowered voice belonging to a strong, confident, empowered storyteller that knows the right and proper structure of theatrical presentation. Whether serving sultry on a playful "When In Rome" or cracking open the heart with "Calling You," there is not a flicker across D'Angelo's face that reads false, there is not a quiver in her voice that reads manufactured, and there exists acting in even the most complex of the Toroian jazz arrangements - something not every singer could pull off. But Diane D'Angelo is not just every singer. In Destination Moon, Diane D'Angelo says "I want to taste the world." You don't become this good a musical storyteller without already having tasted the world. Now, it is her clear mission to bring that world to her audience, and, that, she most definitely does.

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Destination Moon will play The Laurie Beechman Theatre on April 25th at 7 pm. Reservations can be accessed HERE.

THIS is the Diane D'Angelo website.

Photos by Stephen Mosher; Visit the Stephen Mosher website HERE.

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10 Videos To Get Us Worked Up For WOMEN OF AN ERA Starring Hannah Jane At Chelsea Table + Stage

10 Videos To Get Us Worked Up For WOMEN OF AN ERA Starring Hannah Jane At Chelsea Table + Stage

10 Videos To Get Us Worked Up For WOMEN OF AN ERA Starring Hannah Jane At Chelsea Table + Stage

10 Videos To Get Us Worked Up For WOMEN OF AN ERA Starring Hannah Jane At Chelsea Table + Stage

10 Videos To Get Us Worked Up For WOMEN OF AN ERA Starring Hannah Jane At Chelsea Table + Stage



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