by Susan Hasho
Born in Illinois, and later starring as Magnolia in a famous revival of Showboat with Cleo Laine in London, Lorna Dallas embarked on a great journey of career success and a marriage in England with many significant appearances in the U.S. along the way. “Home Again” at Birdland is an introduction to new audiences and, I’m sure, an anticipated reconnection with old friends.
The show opened with a spectacular medley: “As If We Never Said Goodbye” (Webber & Black),” Back in Business” (Sondheim), “Home Blues”( George & Ira Gershwin), and” Home” (Kander & Ebb with special lyrics by Barry Kleinbort her director). Her manner was confident and charming, and her soprano voice is enhanced by a gorgeous middle range that is expressive and rich. “Summer Me, Winter Me” (Legrand /Bergman) was a touching expression of her love for her husband and also a clear example of her ability to get to the heart of a song with apparent ease and deep connection. She carries with her an enormous history of performance and experience, and it was a pleasure to watch her arrive at this moment at Birdland full of enthusiasm and joy.
There was a musical nod to favorite composers: “My Life Belongs to You” (Ivor Novello), “One More Spring” (Barry Kleinbort) and a song “Timeless Thing” that Amanda McBroom composed from a poem Dallas’ husband Garry Brown wrote for her. There was a mix of “You’re Going to Love Tomorrow” (Sondheim), “Younger Than Springtime” (Rodgers, Hammerstein), “Let’s Not Waste a Moment/Before the Parade Passes By” (Herman), interspersed with “Bill” (Kern, Wodehouse, Hammerstein), “You Are Love” (Kern, Hammerstein), and “Look in My Heart” (Novello) that perfectly expressed a treasured past and an excited wish for the present.
Ms. Dallas stated that the closing song, “Once in a Blue Moon” (Jerome Kern and Anne Caldwell) was written 100 years ago, but the relevance for her seemed present throughout the whole evening. “Once in a blue moon…Do you remember when the wind blew free/and we fit together so naturally/ If the wind closes a door/It will open another…”
Not to be presumptuous, but it would be a really great idea if Lorna Dallas kept coming back.
—And came back with her incredible team of Barry Kleinbort as director, and musical director Christopher Denny.
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