by Kathryn Kitt
On Monday, August 15, Stephen Hanks presented a previously staged revue titled Stephen’s Angels, part of his on-going Cabaret Life Productions Series, at Pangea Restaurant. Mr. Hanks’ vision is to provide an opportunity to very talented female vocalists and give them a venue to showcase their vocal stylings. He is truly supportive and conveys admiration and enthusiasm for the artists. With Mr. Hanks himself, as the Master of Ceremonies, and Frank Ponzio on piano, the ambiance at Pangea lent itself to a wonderfully intimate evening of good feelings and interesting repertoire.
Stephen Hanks opened the show with anecdotes about how the whole program came about, including references to the Iridium Jazz Club (which he made a point of not quite mentioning in jest) and then launched into a rendition of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.” Mr. Hanks sang the song with genuine feeling and nice diction.
From there, host Hanks gave a biographical introduction of each singer. Candace Odin was the first singer on the program and burst onto the stage with an obvious love of being there. Her voice had nice control and presence. She also showed she is a consummate professional, for when she mixed up the words of the song “This Time Around,” she delightfully bantered with Mr. Ponzio and got right back on track. “On The Street Where You Live,” from My Fair Lady, was a lovely way for her to close her set.
Next, was Virginia Jiminez who had a Billie Holiday/Amy Winehouse vibe to her performance. She did indeed sing a Billie Holiday medley of “Don’t Explain/Good Morning Heartache” with a clear understanding of the style. It was especially fun to see her pull out a ukulele for her closing song “Rocky Raccoon.” She had a lot of energy with that song as she interacted with the audience.
Lauren Glazer suggested a Bette Midler vibe and,being six months pregnant with her second daughter, displayed a poignancy that was truly touching as a bonding with her baby through music. Her set consisted of a Sara Bareilles song “Uncharted,” closing with “Better Days” and a lot of heart.
Lindsey Holloway sang two standards from the American Song Book, “Almost Like Being In Love” and “Lady Is A Tramp.” Her voice was effortlessly jazzy and had a well-developed lower range. She was very comfortable with the faster paced rhythms of the songs and her ensemble with Mr. Ponzio was very tight.
Kathleen France was the last angel to take the stage. She opened her set with “Cry Me A River” that had a pleasing vocal line, and displayed a comic presence entertaining the audience with Lady Gaga’s version of “Bang Bang” to close her set.
The evening was quite engaging and seemed to move effortlessly thanks to Mr. Hanks. He closed the show with “Birthday Song” (Don McLean) and used that moment to introduce his upcoming show, A tribute to the Music of Don McLean:Storyteller (August 26). Pangea is a perfect space to have this musical series and I look forward to seeing more programming there.
Stephen’s Angels performed at Pangea (178 2d Avenue, NYC) on Monday, August 15 at 7:00 pm. Phone: (212) 995-0900 www.pangeanyc.com