Reviewed by: Joel Vig, Contributing Writer
Karen Akers is a tall drink of water, a rare bird, a strange and exotic mix of one part Katharine Hepburn, one part Louise Brooks and one part Greta Garbo. While she is a home town girl, born and raised in New York, she seems to be not only from another place but even from another time. She is currently holding court in the Oak Room Supper Club in the Algonquin Hotel through October 29th.
Aker’s current show, “Live, Laugh, Love,” takes its name from the Stephen Sondheim song in his musical “Follies,” currently running on Broadway in a celebrated revival mounted by the Kennedy Center. The evening has been structured, with the deft touch of director Eric Michael Gillett, into a triptych, a work of art divided into three sections usually presented “side by side by side,” to quote the Sondheim lyric from “Company.” Assembled from a bakers’ dozen of Sondheim’s musical and movie scores, the song cycle celebrates both the famous and obscure songs by the reigning king of the American Musical Theatre.
Akers is beautifully supported on her Sondheim song cycle journey by musical director Don Rebic on piano and Dick Sarpola on bass. The well-crafted song and medley arrangements allow Akers to use her own instrument to its full advantage. Dressed in a floor length, belted, black lace dress with a jet bracelet and jet dangle earrings, Akers compliments her rich contralto voice with her expressive face and elegant gestures. The flash of her amber brown eyes, the curl of her lip, the arch of an eyebrow, the movement she makes with her impossibly long and graceful arms, are wonders to behold.
While there are a number of Sondheim’s most well known songs in the act, such as “Let Me Entertain You” and “Send In The Clowns,” there are also many lesser known songs from both Broadway and movie scores. There is even one song, “Water Under The Bridge,” written for Barbra Streisand for a movie that never was produced. The way the melodies are seamlessly woven into a musical tapestry is a wonder to behold.
Performances will continue through October 29th, 2011. Tuesdays through Saturdays the show is performed at 8:30 pm. Friday and Saturday night have an additional late show at 11:00 pm. For reservatons and more information call (212) 419-9331.