by Joe Regan Jr.
You knew you were in for a very special cabaret show when Sally Darling, veteran actress-theater director-singer appeared at Don’t Tell Mama on November 18 for her new themed cabaret act entitled “Perspectives” with Music Director Matthew Martin Ward, playing “Almost Like Being In Love” as she entered from the rear of the room. She picked up the lyrics, starting to sing that familiar song from “Brigadoon” when suddenly she broke into “Falling In Love With Love” and Ward was playing Satie!, continuing to play it as she sang that Rodgers & Hart classic. The sold out house, full of performers and critics, went crazy in their enthusiasm even though some of them did not recognize the Satie! (It has been featured in many movies and was a major part of the Blood Sweat and Tears hit album in the Sixties.)
Throughout the show, she introduced each selection with autobiographical details about her failed romances and her disappointments in lovers and husbands and how she always remained an optimist. We got moving renditions of some familiar standards like “I Really Don’t Want To Know,” “You Fascinate Me So,” with the original angry interpretation, and a sad “Willow Weep For Me.”
Ward sang a long original verse to “Mountain Greenery” before Darling came in on the second chorus. She discussed how, for a long time in her life, she lived in a cabin with no running water and an outhouse before she took up one of the swinging choruses of that standard.
Yes, there was a Sondheim but it wasn’t one everyone else does. Darling sang “Remember” from the opening sequence of the film of “A Little Night Music,” surprising the audience with lyrics that are quite brilliant.
Darling did Claibe Richardson and Stephen Cole’s “Perfect” in a perfect match with Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love.” She got us all to sing along with “All You Need Is Love” and there was a crazy David Yazbek song “Jeannette’s Showbiz Number.”
Darling’s voice is stronger than ever and each selection was dramatically acted. The Randy Newman songs (“Theme from ‘Monk‘,”) Noel Coward, and Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx were not the familiar selections but each was introduced with a personal anecdote.
Again, despite her many disappointments in love, Darling remains an optimist saluting us with the toast song from Little Me, “Here’s To Us.” Throughout the show, Ward was a strong collaborator, often singing solos, duets, and harmony.
Sally Darling “Perspectives” with Matthew Martin Ward repeats again at Don’t Tell Mama on December 13 at 5 PM and December 19 at 5 PM. Reservations strongly recommended. Call 212 757-0788 after 4 PM or www.donttellmamanyc.com.