Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited
When an actor sings, lyrics and music are transformed into a performance of a unique kind. When that actor has appeared in fourteen Broadway shows as well as in film and on television – as Anita Gillette has – the performance is majestic and transformative. For example, when Anita Gillette sings Kander and Ebb’s “Don’t Tell Mama” (from “Cabaret”) or Bob Merrill’s “Mira” (from “Carnival”), her body is firmly planted on the stage of the Metropolitan Room but her spirit is on the stages of the Imperial Theatre, the Broadway Theatre, and the Winter Garden Theatre.
Anita Gillette’s passion for where she has come from and her celebration of the moment is exhilarating and is evident in each song that she styles. Highlights of her performance are “Don’t Tell Mama (John Kander, Fred Ebb); “Mira” (Bob Merrill); “Yesterdays” (Jerome Kern, Otto Harbach with additional lyric by Barry Kleibort); “He May Be Your Man” (Joe Williams); “Did I Ever Really Live”/”I Still Believe in Love” (Albert Hague, Allan Sherman/Marvin Hamlisch, Carole Bayer Sager with additional lyric by Barry Kelinbort).
Ms. Gillette interprets her songbook with the sensitivity and authenticity of a seasoned performer, a performer who is still exploring the meaning of each note, each phrase, and the hidden meaning in each lyric. Her energy is captivating and her voice is magical. Spending tie with Anita Gillette is indeed a confirmation that “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” after all. Introduced by Ethel Merman in George White’s 1931 “Scandals,” the lyrics of this memorable song invite the listener to celebrate life’s joy and possibilities: “Life is just a bowl of cherries;/Don’t make it serious;/Life’s too mysterious.” Thanks to Anita Gillette, the audience embraces all of life’s possibilities and all of life’s mysteries.
“After All” is directed by Barry Kleinbort. Ms. Gillette is accompanied by Steve Doyle on upright bass, Steve Bartosik on drums, and pianist and arranger Paul Greenwood. Mr. Doyle and Mr. Greenwood provided backup vocals.