Cabaret Review by Joe Regan Jr.


For the second weekend of her current engagement, “Baby Jane Dexter: Rules of the Road (Part 3),” greeted with cheers as she was escorted to the stage and took her place in her current chair, assisted by her long term musical director/arranger Ross Patterson, opened her mouth and brilliantly sang Cy Coleman and Peggy Lee’s “I’m In Love Again.” Like the legendary Mabel Mercer, who always sat and sang, and the way Barbara Cook (also assisted to the stage) now sits and sings, Dexter needs to do nothing but sing. That she is also, as Mercer and Cook, a great actress helps her to enhance the meaning of lyrics in a way that cabaret legend Julie Wilson (also in the audience this night) always has.

The elephant in the room was freak accident she had last week which caused the NYTimes critic to write a devastating review. With exquisite eye make up (“a la Lady Gaga”) and the visible stitches over her right eye, Dexter tonight (Nov. 28th) was in greater voice than ever and gave full weight to the music and lyrics of every selection. She belted out several songs, in a hushed interpretation sang some forgotten ballads, and included two wonderful Randy Newman songs: “Guilty” done with a blues beat, and, a real gem, “Shining.” There was another tribute to Peggy Lee, Lieber and Stoller’s “I’m A Woman,” interfaced with personal comments, belted with joyful, angry emotion. During the show she frequently looked a lyric sheets (as did Rosemary Clooney in her later great years) and asked Patterson what song was next. It didn’t matter because Dexter does it with humor. She also went into detail about the accident but it was told in a funny manner so it wasn’t a downer.

Dexter also takes a light swing rhythm to “There Is Nothing Like A Dame” on which she got the audience to shout out the last “dame” in the chorus. Dexter joyously sang “I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love.” When she made a personal reference to my late great love in the musical break, it brought tears to my eyes. Bocchino’s “Sweet Dreams” was also a highlight.

Towards the end of the show, Dexter puts together “Reach Out, I’ll Be There” with “Stay With Me” and the message works because she acts the lyrics and the music to the hilt! It’s her exorcism song this time and it works brilliantly. She exits singing “Forever Young” and Dexter is forever young. I’ve said before, Dexter deserves to be called a “diva” which is the female definition of the word “divine.” I was seated across from a woman who had never seen her before and was entranced through the whole show wanting to know all about her. Go to www.babyjanedexter.com for more information.

Don’t miss this sensational show. “Baby Jane Dexter: The Rules of the Road (Part 3)” repeats at the Metropolitan Room at 7 pm December 20, 26, and 27. Call 212 206-0440 or contact www.metropolitanroom.com for reservations.