Sunday, November 15, 2009

CABARET review - Alexandra Billings

Alexandra Billings brought her cabaret show Everybody's Girl, under the musical direction of Bill Newlin, to Sterling's Upstairs @ Vitello's Sunday November 15 - and I must admit, after seeing so many great cabaret artists lately, this lady tops them all. Her instrument has an astounding range, she can act your socks off and... she is raunchy and deliriously hilarious, all in one breath.
She opened the 75 minute set with "Being Alive", a Sondheim winner, and, for the first time, I heard it the way it is supposed to be sung. Start off soft and slow and let it build and build to a gigantic finish. She then proclaimed what a fancy room Sterling's is, like a New York club - "So what the hell am I doing here?" She said she realized she would have to watch her language, "don't insult the audience" and "don't hump the piano!" "Then what's left? That's my show!!" There followed a splendid rendition of "Just In Time", then a dynamic "Rich, Famous and Powerful", followed by the showstopper of all, "The Music That Makes Me Dance" (Jule Styne from Funny Girl) that here served as a tribute to her late father, a professor and musical director for many years at Harbor College. She shifted to "I'm Checkin' Out", which she called country music a la Shel Silverstein - "What versatility! She does it all!" Other highlights included "Stars and The Moon", "Everybody's Girl" from Steel Pier - "I had to find a song that sums me up", a gorgeous low-key medley of "Lost in the Stars" and "Some Enchanted Evening", a brilliant arrangement of "Come Rain or Come Shine" which was sent to her from the Wally Harper estate (he had arranged it with Mort Lindsay for Judy Garland) and as her finale, the Carly Simon hit, the philosophical "Let the River Run" from Working Girl.
She told some very funny stories about Liza, Earth Kitt, Stockard Channing and talked of a condition called FPT (Famous People Turrets disease) that she has been known to get when confronted with a celebrity.
Billings need never worry about hobnobbing with famous people, as her brilliant artistic talent already places her at the star level. She is one artiste that deserves to go straight to the top.


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