Cabaret adventure

Vicki Phillips: Different Dreams/Different Times

With Vicki Phillips
Musical Direction by Gerry Dieffenbach
Don't Tell Mama
343 W. 46th St. (757-0788)
Non-union production (closes Oct. 20)
Review by Doug DeVita

In the intimate environs of the front room at Don't Tell Mama, Vicki Phillips comes alive, holding her small but enthusiastic audience in her thrall. Her latest cabaret venture, Different Dreams/Different Times, finds this unique performer in a different vein from normal; usually an ebullient powerhouse, here she exposes her wistful, softer side as she explores the world of hopes, aspirations, and dreams, her own included.

This is a new show for her, and she isn't yet completely comfortable in this dreamy state; at times the feeling of her wanting to let loose and bring the house down with a brassy vocalization was palpable. But then there were those moments of wonderful stillness, when she simply sat next to the piano (brilliant musical direction and repartee from Gerry Dieffenbach), and got lost in the sheer bliss of performing a song. Particularly memorable were her interpretations of Dieffenbach's gorgeous ballad "In Your Eyes," Kurt Weill's "My Ship," and Bob Ost's achingly beautiful "Would Anybody Like a Dream." She also performed "There's No Business Like Show Business" with a twist that drew audible gasps: who knew that this brassily theatrical song could be such emotionally moving anthem to life?

Ost provided the snappy patter and direction, and although the lighting was pretty much on the dark side, colorful balloons along the back wall gave a sense of lightness and fun. Phillips's outfit, however, was an unflattering blue pantsuit with an appliquéd blue denim jacket. With her flaming red hair, blue is a terrific color for her, but there is only so much whimsy she can exude naturally, the fey nature of the costume was just too cute for words. She can be an elegant presence on stage, and her outfit should reflect that as well.

Nevertheless, Vicki Phillips just loves to perform, and it is this love that propels her to the heights whenever she gets a mike in front of her. And in her best moments, it is something wonderful to behold, a singer and her audience caught up in a performing delirium.

Box Score:

Directing: 2
Musical Direction: 2
Performance: 2
Costumes: 0
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2001 Doug DeVita