Cabaret Review By Brian Scott Lipton
Proving once again the truth of the age-old motto that it is better to give than receive, the award-winning composer-lyricist Lance Horne chose to spend his birthday on October 20 – well, 90 minutes of it – by giving an extremely appreciative audience a true treat: a delightfully diverse collection of his songs performed by some of the most talented women in New York City.
Indeed, it was truly fitting that “Lance & the Ladies,” as this special evening at Birdland was dubbed, began with Horne debuting a new song called “A Thousand Colors” (written with Jake Shears of the pop group The Scissor Sisters), since Horne showed us the true range of his talent this evening. Who else could write everything from the raunchily offbeat “Ecstasy,” a PSA about condom use penned with Tony Award winner Alan Cumming, to the jaunty “Haircut” (nicely done by Stephanie D’Abruzzo), the heartbreaking “Anyone Who’s Ever Been In Love” (gorgeously imbued by Alexandra Silber), and the operatic “Rhyme Maidens” and “Around,” both with text from sci-fi writer Neil Gaiman (and sung stunningly by the great New York City Opera star Lauren Flanigan.)
Horne’s strongest songs need vocalists who can act – and who have range and power – and the right ladies were on hand to deliver the goods. The always extraordinary Julia Murney practically scaled mountains while asking us to take a chance in living our dreams in “Leap,” while Julie Garnye delivered a similar sentiment with bravado in the stirring “Last Day on Earth.” Tony nominee Daphne Rubin-Vega’s idiosyncratic style was perfectly in tune with the melancholy “Orpheus” and rising cabaret star Gabrielle Stravelli practically brought down the house with the jazzy ballad “Hurry Up and Take Your Time.”
The entire evening had a party-like atmosphere, complete with a series of poetic toasts by the brilliant Kate Rigg and a sing-along of “Happy Birthday” led by the ultimate “party” girl, 1960s pop great Lesley Gore. So whatever Horne does to celebrate his next natal anniversary, please let me be on the guest list!
Lance & The Ladies. Monday, October 20. Birdland. 315 West 44th St. 212-581-3080
*Photos: Kevin Alvey