NY Cabaret Review by John Weatherford
Molly Ringwald made her Café Carlyle debut as she began her two-week engagement at the world famous venue. She has, to date, enjoyed a long and impressive career as an actress, dancer and singer. It is clear that singing is one of her favorite talents. The daughter of Jazz pianist, Bob Ringwald, she was living in the world of music and jazz while most of us were still looking for our own sandbox. Her first album was with her father’s group, The Fulton Street Jazz Band – she was six.
She told the opening night audience that she always thought she would grow up to be a black female jazz singer. “It seemed the most logical outcome.” Well, she didn’t become a black jazz singer, however, she did become a remarkable female jazz performer. She is a delight to experience. Her voice is smooth and direct, her presence is elegant and comfortable and her style is sleek and sassy. She uses any apprehensions that she might have as vehicles for her patter and her pizzazz. She greets the audience as old friends and shares with them a feeling of being home, or at least, a place she would like to call home.
She looks at jazz as comfort food for the soul and with that she plates up a delicious array of dishes. Ms. Ringwald sticks mostly to the American Songbook – “as it covers all the emotions and expectations of the heart’s searchings.” There are times she is almost gleeful in her interpretations and, at other times, she pulls us into a world of accepted pain. Her rendition of “Don’t Explain,” written by Billy Holiday and Arthur Herzog, Jr., was heart-felt and had no sense of acting – only being. She is truly a wonderful entertainer. She filled the evening with joy and appreciation. This is the show to see, as Ms. Ringwald offers the audience her decades of artistry – she offers it with joy and abandon.
Her musical director and pianist, Peter Smith, has provided Ms. Ringwald with glorious arrangements that lock-in her jaunty, jazzy style, while allowing for a sophistication and reverence to the music, and its storytelling ambition. Tony Jefferson on drums and Trevor Ware on bass add musical mastery and, clearly, energize the ever-present Ms. Ringwald. Congratulations on your debut, Ms. Ringwald, and here’s wishing you a wonderful two-week engagement at Café Carlyle thru October 18th.
212.744.1600 The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue).