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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
DIAHANN CARROLL
at Feinsteins at the Regency, New York

STILL SWINGING
By Robert L. Daniels

  Diahann Carroll

The week i was released from the armed forces in 1955, I raced to Broadway to refresh my long harbored appreciation for musical theatre. My first choice was House of Flowers, Harold Arlen's sumptuous tuner of a Caribbean brothel with picturesque lyrics by Truman Capote. Right from the first scene I was taken by the character if a sixteen-year-old girl named Ottilie, and she was acted with beguiling charm by the youthful Diahann Carroll in her Broadway debut. When she sang "I Never Has Seen Snow" and "A Sleepin' Bee" the thrill of discovery was installed within me and it has lasted over a half-century.

A confessed septuagenarian (she will turn seventy-two this summer), Ms. Carroll has returned to Feinstein's at the Regency for a month long turn (through March 24) in a reflective program of song entitled "Both Sides Now." Vibrantly lovely in a two-piece bugle beaded black and white gown, and stunningly bejeweled in diamonds, Carroll 's biographical narrative recalled career highlights from Broadway triumphs to her Oscar nominated performance in Claudine, and her television successes in Dynasty and as the lovable widowed nurse "Julia." Of the latter, Carroll displayed a "Julia" lunch box and "the first black Barbie doll!"

Still a lissome beauty, Carroll's voice remains a velvety strong instrument-buttery and richly warm. From her Tony award winning performance in Richard Rodgers No Strings ( the composer's first time writing his own lyrics), she revived "The Sweetest Sounds" and recalled a stirring musical moment from her Toronto turn as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.

After "Where Do You Start?" the haunting query by Marilyn and Alan Bergman, set to an enveloping Johnny Mandel melody, Carroll confessed to "going from the sublime to the ridiculous" with a churning vaudeville take to "Some of These Days."

At the center of her hour was a swinging tribute to Ol' Blue Eyes. From the bountiful Sinatra legacy, there was Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin," the Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer boozy lament "One for My Baby" and the John Kander-Fred Ebb hymn to Gotham, "New York, New York." Carroll is a true jazz baby who can sing and swing with the best of them. The distinctive diva has been away from the Apple much too long and as she predicts in Cy Coleman's assuring promise, "The Best is Yet To Come."

 


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