By Brian Scott Lipton
With appearances on the hit TV shows, “American Idol” and “The Voice” and theater credits ranging from “Rent” to “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” powerhouse vocalist Frenchie Davis should be a household name. Fortunately, this supremely talented woman still has time to achieve superstardom, and with some tweaking, “The French & Kat Show,” which is making its New York debut at the Metropolitan Room, could be her ticket to universal fame.
A large part of what makes this unique evening so delightful, is Davis’ often hilarious interchanges with “her musical soulmate/non-sexual life partner,” the pianist and comedian Kathryn Lounsbery. Their banter about everything from their obsession with “Downton Abbey” to their plans for writing Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals has the audience in consistent stitches. That said, there’s rather too much of this schtick for an hour-long show, which results in Davis not singing nearly as many numbers as one would hope.
Fortunately, each and every one of Davis’ selections, a shockingly eclectic mix of musical styles, is a winner. She hits a home run right out of the gate with a dynamic pairing of the blues standard “Sinnerman” and the hyperemotional “Gotta Move” (made famous by Barbra Streisand), before wowing us just minutes later with a delicious rendition of “Ain’t Misbehavin’” performed in the style of the late, great Nell Carter.
As the show progresses, Davis proves there’s nothing she can’t – or won’t – do, ranging from a beautifully slowed-down version of The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” to passionate takes on Otis Redding’s “(Sitting on the) Dock of the Bay” and Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” a hilarious salute to Britney Spears, a crowd-pleasing foray into hip-hop, and even a surprising medley that incorporates Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” and Heart’s “Crazy on You.” No matter what she tackles, her vocals shine like diamonds as does Lounsbery’s musicianship.
Davis leaves the crowd on a high with a roof-raising rendition of “Home,” the show-stopping ballad from the Broadway musical “The Wiz” (that she half-jokingly refers to as “the black equivalent of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow” ). One can only hope that New York finds a more permanent home for “The French and Kat Show.”
The French and Kat Show. The Metropolitan Room (34 West 22nd Street. 212-206-0440). February 8-10.