NY Music-Cabaret Review by Eric J. Grimm
Pia Zadora, the entertainer whose singing talent has always taken a backseat to her tumultuous personal life and extramusical endeavors, has a strange and delightful new show going on at the Metropolitan Room. Far from the crisp and smooth cabaret acts that usually inhabit that intimate performance space, Zadora’s Pia Reloaded is bumpy, loud, and often very weird but it’s also a hoot. This brassy evening of standards reminds us why Zadora could never have had a sterling star image but also why we love her just the way she is.
Zadora’s singing is fairly inconsistent. She sometimes struggles with breathlessness and for every final note that she nails, there are a few that fall flat. Frankly, she’s at her best when she’s yelling her way through a song like Judy Garland’s “The Man That Got Away.” Her belting and wild gesturing are enough to keep the audience transfixed. Her energetic performance style serves her well in numbers like Brenda Lee’s “Sweet Nothings,” where she plays her idea of a rocker chick, all bounce and shimmy.
Clad in shimmering Bob Mackie dresses with a glittering microphone to match, Zadora knows how to work a crowd, in her own unusual honest way of telling her life story between songs. Many of her anecdotes don’t make any sense, but you have to admire her for playfully addressing life events like her 1982 Golden Globe for New Star of the Year, essentially purchased for her by her millionaire husband, and her 2013 arrest for a domestic dispute. Of course, she’s not all self-deprecation; she reminds us of happier times as a Broadway star and Frank Sinatra’s opening act.
In the end, Zadora is unapologetic and that makes for a good show. Her spirit is displayed full force in Pia Reloaded, particularly in the closing number “City Lights,” where she sings and dances her heart out as a rapidly multiplying chorus line of dancing Pias is projected behind her. It’s a maniacal sensory overload and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Pia Reloaded is playing at the Metropolitan Room (34 W. 22nd St.) from August 5-10. For tickets, visit http://metropolitanroom.com/event.cfm?cart&id=147847.