After charming City Theatre audiences last year with her cooking/singing/storytelling fun fest Mondo Mangia, Jilline Ringle is back in town with a brand new show. In La Dolce Vita: Movie Songs of the 1960s, Ms. Ringle presents some of the most cherished, memory-evoking movie songs of the '60s - but even more entertaining is how she uses fashion, family tales, and pop culture references to make this more than just a revue of familiar tunes. This is a very sweet, but very funny show.
Starting out in a "little black dress" and pearls a la Givenchy, Ringle reminds us of the mysterious allure of the foreign film in the early '60s. With songs from Mondo Cane, The Pink Panther, and Never on Sunday she addresses the influence of Greek and Italian movie stars, always bringing in the effect this genre of film had on her family. Changing into a lime green Capri pantsuit with daisy trim, Ringle brings us romantic songs like "Moon River," "The Shadow of Your Smile," and "Watch What Happens." The self-proclaimed "six-foot redhead Amazon from hell," Ringle has a self-deprecating manner, a sharp wit, and an infectious smile that are used not only to add fun patter between songs, but to make you feel like you're back in that era again - or there for the first time.
The "Beatles era" is accompanied by an outfit of fringed mini-dress, fishnet stockings and white go-go boots. "The Windmills of Your Mind," "Alfie," and "Goldfinger" are movie songs from this part of the decade. Finally, Ringle "freaks out" with a Pucci-style bell bottom pantsuit as she enters the psychedelic era and enjoys "The Happening," "Theme from the Valley of the Dolls," and "What's New Pussycat," among others. She's come a long way since the ultra-sophisticated era of the little black dress, and reminds us of the era of free love, James Bond, and recreational drugs. Ringle adds two more '60s anthems, "To Sir With Love" and "Georgy Girl," in her encore.
Ringle is accompanied by the The Cinematics, the fabulous trio of Thomas Wesley Douglas (musical director/keyboard), Dave Flodine (guitar), and Pasquale Vincenzo Macioce (drums). These three provide perfect accompaniment and also act as Ringle's "straight men" throughout the show. The set by Tony Ferrieri is perfectly in theme - a little bit "Laugh-In" and a little bit op-art - and very functional. Costumes by Venise St. Pierre perfectly evoke the look and style of the period and also look great on Jilline.
In La Dolce Vita, we learn more about Jilline Ringle's Italian heritage and about her love of good music and films. Though some songs are more suited to her voice than others, the selection is good overall and her singing is very enjoyable. However, it is her ability to use humor, anecdotes, physical expressions and gestures, and vocal accents, to create a full experience that makes this evening the delight that it is.
La Dolce Vita: Movie Songs of the 1960s runs through January 5 at City Theatre. For performance and ticket information, call 412-431-CITY or visit www.citytheatrecompany.org.
La Dolce Vita: Movie Songs of the 1960s