by Alix Cohen
Continuing successful monthly residency at the intimate Beach Café, Karen Akers gives us an evening of Cole Porter, accompanied by Alex Rybeck, epitomizing both his wry sophistication and tenderness. The show is clear effort to bring cheer to an audience during trying times. “I’m Throwin’ a Ball Tonight,” the artist begins graciously.
The familiar “Anything Goes” is followed by Joe Keenan’s contemporary parody:
When stars whose thoughts are far from clever/are tweeting their fans whenever they blow their nose (Poor dears)/Anything goes…When Cary Grants and Spencer Tracys/Have turned into Kevin Spacys and Russell Crowes,/Anything goes …through which Akers has a wicked twinkle in her eye
“Come to the Supermarket (In Old Peking- pronounced PAking)” is theatrically expressive as is “The Tale of The Oyster.” Few can do this kind of justice to the latter. The ignominious history of a bivalve requires a musically raised eyebrow.
Ballads tap a different side of the writer and performer. Who else would have the sensitivity to sing “It’s All Right With Me” (hugging herself) as bittersweet, not bouncy? Akers calls the longlined “Where Have You Been?” an optimistic blues. Right on.
“Paris Suite” highlights this evening. Both the vocalist and Porter have deep feelings for the city. Five songs are masterfully woven together, one in impeccable French. We can feel the joy and longing. Evocation is balanced by an ode to Porter’s other favorite place, New York. “Take Me Back to Manhattan” bubbles up effervescent. Akers would’ve fit right in to Porter’s circle. (A Queens accent employed for the song’s verse is ill advised.)
“I am the most enthusiastic person in the world… I couldn’t be bored or I couldn’t compose. I am spending my life escaping boredom, not because I’m bored but because I don’t want to be. I’m a hard-working boy from Indiana who’s engaged in the business of entertaining myself, which enables me to entertain, as much as I can, the world!” Cole Porter- from the show
Photos Courtesy of The Beach Cafe
Karen Akers: Anything Goes 2019
The Beach Café
326 2nd Ave at 70th Street