Regional Reviews: Seattle
There's Always One More Song to Sing Shelly Burch at the Crepe De Paris
Also see David's interview with Shelly Burch
Aside from the likes of such headliners as Eartha Kitt and Cleo Laine, who get yearly bookings at Jazz Alley, the classic one-woman cabaret show is a rare animal in Seattle's nightlife scene. But, thanks to the entrepreneurial skills of producer/writer/director Martin (Annie) Charnin, the Crepe De Paris is hosting actress/singer Shelly Burch's delightful, lightly autobiographical There's Always One More Song to Sing.
A dandy, classy presentation of 15 delightful but generally unknown songs by lyricist Charnin (with music by several composers, including Charles Strouse, Michael Dansicker, Keith Levenson, Colin Romoff, and Charnin himself), There's Always One More Song to Sing is a polished, upbeat evening performed by the warm, good-humored and vocally rich Ms. Burch, a veteran of Broadway, nightclubs, and nearly a decade as a featured star of ABC TV's One Life to Live. Burch seems so happy and open onstage that it is contagious; I found myself smiling unabashedly from start to finish of the tight 75 minute set.
There is not a clunker song in the show, from opening number "I'm Putting Me in Your Hands" to the title number which serves as the encore. The prolific Charnin mostly excludes songs from his musical theatre songbook, though one of the loveliest ballads of the evening is "It Would Have Been Wonderful" from the off-Broadway Annie Warbucks, set to a haunting Charles Strouse melody. Otherwise, the songs come from revues, recordings, and Vegas shows written over the course of Charnin's career, and Burch has a great handle on them, relating the songs to her life story as she goes. Her warmth overflows in the beautiful "Sing Me Pretty," and "Will Thee Marry Me?"; she savors but does not over-dramatize the irony of "The Best Thing You've Ever Done"; and aces the comedy of "Special Skills." Her non-musical recounting of the trials and travails of her "One Life to Live" character Delila is achingly funny, whether you've ever watched soap or not.
Charnin and Burch first met when she joined the original Broadway company of his Annie and only in the last couple of years did they reconnect, personally and professionally. His song "The Last Prince In Town" is a delightful musical setting of their reconnection, and the pair clearly bring out the best in each other. The song choices for the show are especially successful in illustrating her impressive vocal range, in addition to her adept shading and coloring of lyrics. She receives strong musical support from bassist Todd Gowers, drummer Todd Zimberg, and musical director/keyboardist Dwight Beckmyer (who could however lose the synthesizer keyboard, which tended for me to cheapen the beauty of the music).
This show deserves to find a big, appreciative audience. Shelly Burch clearly has well more than One More Song to Sing, and now that she is residing in Puget Sound hopefully we will be hearing many of them, as the casting folks at Seattle's theatres become aware of this.
Shelley Burch's one woman show, There's Always One More Song to Sing, written and directed by Martin Charnin runs 11/18-12/31, Friday-Saturday, 8 p.m. (with dinner seating at 6 p.m.). $55 for dinner and show, $20 for show, $60 for Dec. 31 show; 206-623-4111.- David-Edward Hughes