Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited
A national sensation in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Karen Wyman has decided after twenty-three years to stage her comeback and continue what has always been her passion: singing for her live audiences. That decision comes after having successfully raised her family and realizing that musically she had “a lot of growing up to do” in terms of truly understanding the lyrics she was singing intuitively “as a kid” in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Recent appearances at Birdland and the Mabel Mercer Foundation and this current appearance at the Metropolitan Room prove incontrovertibly that this was the quintessential time for Karen Wyman’s return to the cabaret stage and that she not only has full control of her splendid vocal instrument but also understands every word she sings with renewed passion and authenticity.
Backed by John Odo on piano, Dick Sarpola on bass, Eddie Caccavale on drums, and directed by Dennis Deal, Ms. Wyman glides through a formidable chunk of the Great American Songbook with style and grace and demonstrates that “Come Rain or Come Shine” (Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer), she is here to stay and “Why [She] Can’t Walk Away” (George Weiss/Hugo/Luigi). This George Weiss song was the first she sang on the Ed Sullivan Show when she was just sixteen.
Karen Wyman’s unique and pleasant styling and her now mature understanding of the lyric undergird her interpretations of “After You’ve Gone” (Turner Layton and Henry Creamer), Irving Berlin’s “Always,” and her well-chosen Edyie Gorme medley. And her dynamic and soulful phrasing shines through in “Where Do You Start” (Alan and Marilyn Bergman).
Perhaps no three songs could better underscore Ms. Wyman’s journey to the necessary and powerful rediscovery of self than “Just One of Those Things” (Cole Porter), “Gotta Move” (Peter Matz with lyrics by Barbara Streisand), and “All By Myself” (Irving Berlin) which this honest and thoughtful singer performs with lots of “grown up” integrity.
Sharing in Karen Wyman’s successful comeback, the audience at the iconic Metropolitan Room wonders what its members have generously sacrificed in their own lives and now need to give a second-time-around chance. Ms. Wyman gives her listeners the second opportunity to “get out, find some place, some brand new place” (Barbara Streisand) where they can just be themselves. Make plans now to see Karen Wyman in March to share in her remarkable gift of the rediscovery and celebration of self.