Musical Direction by Vinnie Falcone
Reviewed by David Roberts and Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited
The iconic Pia Zadora returned to the New York stage on Thursday February 7, 2013 at the Metropolitan Room for the first of five performances of her new show “Back Again and Standing Tall.” Ms. Zadora is indeed back with the feeling of celebrity status in a room filled with clicking cameras and adorned in glittering Hollywood style sequins to deliver her Vegas style show that simply does not fit into the New York cabaret scene. As for standing tall, both she and her performance fall terribly short. She entered the room at the Metropolitan cursing at her band and demanding they re-start her first number “Pick Yourself Up.” Jerome Kern and Dorothy Field probably gave an ethereal gasp from beyond when Ms. Zadora flung the “F” word at Vinnie Falcone her pianist and musical director.
Her abusive behavior toward her extremely talented band continued throughout the night, including making them provide background music while she went offstage to complete a costume change. If this indeed is her way of incorporating humor into the poorly constructed show it simply did not work. It was inappropriate and at times made the audience uncomfortable. It is difficult for an audience to listen to this harsh banter and then be expected to react to the sentimental and emotional material that follows.
Perhaps it was nerves or perhaps Ms. Zadora was just not prepared for her re-entry into the cabaret scene. Whatever the reason, her performance did not work. She half spoke, half whispered her way through almost a score of songs from the Great American Song Book, ending each with a bouncy bravado belt that seemed to satisfy her friends and family filled first night audience. Trying to capture the past, remembering and reenacting her time with Sinatra, did not provide any substance to the performance. There was no doubt of the effort made to please and entertain the audience but this sparkling event diminished to an unremarkable flash in the pan.
To her credit, Ms. Zadora provides a disclaimer in her encore number “I Am What I Am” (Jerry Herman). Pia Zadora knows exactly who she is and what she has achieved in her successful career. Audiences will either rave about or rant about her current show “Back Again and Standing Tall.” Either way, Pia Zadora is back and it is always good to have her back. One wishes she stood taller in this re-entry into the New York Cabaret scene. Maybe next time.