BWW Review: Dynamic Kay Cole Soars with SOUVENIR
It is great to see an artist of Kay Cole's caliber perform her very first solo cabaret at a later stage of life. This woman has done TV, film, Broadway, national tours; she has directed both musicals and plays, choreographed...and now has released Souvenir, her very first solo CD and achieved a glorious cabaret debut at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal on Sunday July 16. The show also called Souvenir, which ran under an hour, was directed by Cole's long-time friend the wonderful Bruce Kimmel and musically directed by the fabulous John Boswell, who accompanied her on the piano throughout.
Kay Cole has a lot to tell about her life and career, and somehow she managed lovingly, with Kimmel's effectively streamlined approach, to fit all the major points into an hour show, starting with her youth, onto A Chorus Line in 1975 and beyond. Cole is petite, lovable and warm with her audience, and as she pointed out, is a truly happy person. She absolutely glows from moment to moment so her fun stories come to vibrant life... and all of us experience such joy as a result. Her vocie has never sounded better, clear, expert phrasing, belting out the powerful songs, hitting and sustaining the high notes with ease. She knows herself and this produces such a fine cabaret performer. She also has a self-deprecating humor that everyone can relate to. She did "The Parent Trap" with Hayley Mills, in which she had a small role and alluded to the fact that if you blinked, you missed her performance. Later she did "Hello Down There" with Richard Dreyfuss, which was later voted one of the 10 worst films ever made. What sincerity! And the variety of her work onstage is astounding from the melodious The Music Man to the bold Anthony Newley Stop the World, I Want to Get Off and then on to rock and pop like Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. She has literally done it all. Bless her talent and perseverance!
Highlights of the evening were of course the medley of songs about being happy "Happy Talk", "Get Happy", "Happy Together", "You Made Me So Very Happy",and her favorite "Make Someone Happy". She confessed to loving ballads, also pop and rock and she blended both into her program with such delightful tunes as "Simply", "One Boy" from Bye, Bye Birdie, the beautifully rendered "Moonfall", "What I Did For Love" a signature song from A Chorus Line, the dynamically performed Anthony Newley composition "Once In a Lifetime", the commanding "You're Gonna Hear From Me", the lovely ballads "Long, Long Time" and then the bouncier "I Got Love". All these choices also attest to her love of love.
Cole claims that Bruce Kimmel has been badgering her for years to put a show together, and finally she gave in. I am so glad she did, as it is adding a brand new phase to her illustrious career. If Kay Cole repeats this show, and I hear she's taking it to New York, don't miss it! Souvenir is a gem and the lady is one of the best.
The CD Souvenir is available at Kritzerland Records: