Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Colored Lights KT Sullivan
Also see Bill's review of Spamalot
KT Sullivan is one of the busiest and most successful cabaret performers before the public today. She records prolifically, solo and with frequent collaborator Mark Nadler, and performs all over the US and in London at top venues. For Sarasota, she chose a program that highlighted many of her past career achievements. The beginning of act one included "A Little Girl from Little Rock" and "The Barbara Song" from The Threepenny Opera, songs she sang in productions on Broadway. Several other songs, not particularly related to one another, took us to the second half of the act when Ms. Sullivan sang "Another Autumn" from Paint Your Wagon combined with "Another Winter in a Summer Town" from Grey Gardens, "And I Was Beautiful" from Dear World, Noöl Coward's "World Weary" (ironically written when he was a jaded 23), and finally a stunning "Autumn in New York." These songs combined to form an arc that was missing from much of the rest of the show.
Act two opened with "Another Openin', Another Show" combined with "There's No Business Like Show Business" which I have never heard together, although the pairing is obvious once heard. Other features of the second act were two songs from the Comden and Green/Charles Strouse musical Applause, "One Hallowe'en" and "But Alive," and "Colored Lights" from Kander and Ebb's The Rink. Ms. Sullivan offered "29 from '29," a medley of 29 songs dating from 1929, as a closing number. What was notable in the medley is how many of the songs are still frequently performed today, such as "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Honeysuckle Rose," "Am I Blue," "Mean to Me," "Its Going to Be a Great Day," "Without a Song," and finally finishing with "Happy Days Are Here Again."
KT Sullivan is a highly engaging performer. Her sleek black outfit for the first act and green gown (a throwback to the '30s) were both beautiful and she is stunning to look at. She sings well, with a soprano that is in between legitimate and a Broadway belt. Her song choices are interesting, some well known, some less so. She sang Cole Porter's not very well known "Tale of the Oyster," which amusingly had been sung recently from the very same stage by Karen Akers. If she could program material with a stronger eye for the arc of an evening, she possesses the ability to take an audience on an interesting journey. Her stage banter is interesting, but because of a less than perfect hearing and her rapid delivery, I missed more of it than I might have liked. The audience around me seemed to like her immensely at the Saturday evening performance.
Jon Webber was the pianist for the evening, a star at the 88s himself, featured on National Public Radio in the slot formerly occupied by Marion McPartland. He took a couple of solo moments, notably in "Autumn in New York" and, from what I could tell, he is potentially a fine jazz artists. Jazz and cabaret/pop are not always a great fit and this event was no exception. In order to keep the spotlight on Ms Sullivan, Mr. Webber did not have a chance to shine as much as a performer of his capability deserves. He might be better featured with a jazz oriented singer.
All in all, Sarasota was treated to an evening by one of the most gifted cabaret artists today.
KT Sullivan in Colored Lights presented December 7 and 8, 2013, by Artists Series Concerts of Sarasota, at The Historic Asolo Theater, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida. Box Office 941 306-1201. For more information, please visit www.artistseries.net.