Lorna Dallas: Glamorous Nights and Rainy Days

Lorna Dallas is a rare breed. Her muscular soprano exhibits the formal training and stage authority of an opera singer, yet with guidance from director Barry Kleinbort, she performs with the intimacy of a veteran cabaret performer.

This show is a tribute to two of the artist’s leading ladies, Cleo Laine, with whom she shared the British stage in Showboat, is represented by glamorous nights. Danny La Rue, Dolly to her Irene Molloy in Hello, Dolly! introduced Dallas to the original context and verse of James Van Heusen/ Johnny Burke’s  “Here’s That Rainy Day” (Carnival in Flanders 1953) which she later renders replete with dialogue. It’s a revelation.

A refined “Glamorous Night” (Ivor Novello/Christopher Hassall) arrives on pointillist piano. With innate wink, Dallas next offers the jaunty, tandem “My Big Best Shoes” (Sandy Wilson), its rat-a-tat chorus as if giggled, and “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” (Jerry Herman). The performer leans out including us in her experience. Stephen Sondheim’s “Back in Business” bobs up with similar  effervescence: “Back in business, and ain’t it grand/Let the good times roll!” she sings crinkling her nose. Melody whooshes.

Michel Legrand/Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s “Summer Me, Winter Me” presents yet another mood. Vocal transitions evoke frisson. Piano is palpably tender. Listen carefully to a Denny arrangement, there are subtle layers. Lyric emerges sheathed in silk, satin. It’s gorgeous. Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II’s “In the Heart of the Dark” was expected by its writers to be a big hit. It wasn’t. “Sometimes the public can be wrong,” Dallas notes. She sings as if conjuring, the power of her vision channeled to manifest.

The artist conducts “By Strauss” (George and Ira Gershwin) with her right hand which sways, points, pivots, and punctuates. Ever wry, Kleinbort has written additional lyrics: “The schlock they call rock is a brutal assault/And as for that thing they call rap, Oy gevalt!” Included is an operatic excerpt from the song’s namesake. Vocal climbs with the organic force of a salmon swimming upstream. Whoa!

Amanda McBroom/Ann Hampton Callaway’s “In My Dreams” was commissioned for Dallas who had expressed feeling “the reassuring presence” of her late husband, Gary. “…but the dark is not as quiet as it seems/For you’re here tonight in my dreams…” It’s lovely. The artist takes us there.

Leslie Bricuse/Anthony Newley’s “Pure Imagination” dips, swirls, and gently soars like a lazy kite on the graceful breeze of Denny’s piano. An encore of the songwriters’ “When You Gotta Go” is deft and understated.

Dallas includes older, more eclectic material, always a treat. She, herself, is an original.

Photos by Conor Weiss

Lorna Dallas: Glamorous Nights and Rainy Days
Directed by Barry Kleinbort
Musical Director- Christopher Denny

The Laurie Beechman Theatre
Repeated May 17, 2023

About Alix Cohen (1769 Articles)
Alix Cohen is the recipient of ten New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, TheaterLife, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course.