BWW Review: Singer Sandy Bainum Brings an Entertaining EVER BLONDEWARD to Sterling's
Actress/dancer/singer Sandy Bainum proved once again on Sunday November 10 that she can do it all. It was the premiere of her new cabaret show Ever Blondeward at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal. In the show she payed tribute to great celebrity blondes like Peggy Lee, Doris Day, Mitzi Gaynor, Marilyn Monroe and Betty Hutton, among others, who left their mark on the world as great entertainers. The sold out house were enchanted by Bainum, who is not only beautiful but a glorious singer and raconteur.
Backed by Emmy-winning musical director Lanny Meyers at the piano, Grant Geissman on guitar and Nate Light on bass, Bainum's 90-minute set had a delightful rhythm to it. She uncannily was able to bring out the style of each lady she was tributing, without attempting an impersonation. She didn't do a Marilyn Monroe voice, but when she sang "Lazy" she hit the lyrics with the same laid back and sensuous intensity that Monroe always used. "Being In Love" by Shirley Jones and especially "Vanilla Ice Cream" from She Loves Me by Barbara Cook can be sung only by someone with a flexible vocal range. Bainum hit the high notes naturally, without straining and delivered both songs beautifully.
There was a deliciously funny "I'm Hip" by Dan Frishberg in salute to Blossom Dearie, a fun "My Boy Flat Top" from the 50s tributing Dorothy Collins, and a magnificent "If He Walked Into My Life" from Mame saluting Angela Lansbury. Bainum told a very amusing story about meeting Lansbury backstage. She was so nervous, not knowing exactly how to approach her idol, but when she did and thanked her for setting a fine example for Bainum to follow in portraying Mame, Lansbury replied graciously, "I hope that worked out for you". Bainum essayed a clipped, very proper British accent for Lansbury and brought down the house.
Other favorites were Doris Day's "Que Sera", Rosemary Clooney's "Hey There", Ginger Rogers' "They All Laughed", Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now", stunningly interpreted, and Mitzi Gaynor's "Cockeyed Optimist" from South Pacific. June Allyson is certainly a treasure with a unique voice - which Bainum thankfully did not attempt to imitate. She talked about Allyson's ordinary appeal and how Allyson may not have been gorgeous like Monroe, but was the gal next door that most men wanted to marry. Another fascinating Broadway and film lady that many do not remember that well is Dolores Gray, who was bold, bawdy and brassy. Bainum did a terrific rendition of "If You Hadn't But You Did" from Two on the Aisle, letting us appreciate Gray's inimitable flair.
Another shout out to the musicians under Lanny Meyers' musical direction who really showed great chemistry together. Bainum worked sublimely with them, and they made us enjoy the show all the more.
Director Andrea Marcovicci is in two words the best. As actress and cabaret performer she is on top. She directed Bainum with a joy and levity that made the show ultra enjoyable, like allowing her to go into the audience and flirt with the men and to bring a dance partner up on stage.
Bainum has played extensively in theatre on both coasts and really knows how to get into a role, whether it be musical, comedy or drama. In fact, she has done many of the roles that her ladies essayed originally, such as Mame and 42nd Street. In interpreting the style of these unforgettable ladies, her acting skill really came into play. She did a sensational job, and once again, creating in us a desire to appreciate the actual performers on video and record.