by: Sandi Durell
Singing fills the soul. When the passion calls and you’ve got the itch, just scratch! It’s like a mini theater piece listening to and watching this woman of a certain age strut her stuff on the small stage at the Triad (Stage 72) Theater. She’s got a story to tell and she tells it with passion and pizzazz!
Arlene Wolff says she came out of her mother’s womb singing. But, as happens to many, life gets in the way, passions get pushed aside or delayed and, although she had a taste of life upon the wicked stage as Arlene Blaine, singing in clubs and cabarets as a young girl, she was sidetracked by a series of marriages and divorces. Instead, her path took her down the road to politics where she eventually became Abe Beame’s (New York City Mayor 1970s) assistant, dealing with blackouts, Son of Sam and a city nearly in bankruptcy. But it turned out to be a fortuitous path when planning the river to river Americana Street Fair, meeting her current husband Mickey Schwartz, then police chief of Manhattan South, and marrying him in 1984. In fact, says she, “I would not have taken a chance on me.”
Crediting Michael Rice (composer/musical director) and Jerry Beaver (casting director) with her comeback to the stage, she gave the jam-packed Triad Theatre audience what they came for in two acts: a running musical theme that covers her multi-faceted life and loves – – – from “I’m Shooting High,” “Mean to Me,” “Married I Can Always Get” to “Once In a Lifetime,” “Pick Yourself Up,” “Autumn in New York,” “More Than You Know” to “Blue Skies” and “That’s Life” – – – each song a story unto itself. Aside from some mic problems, her voice remains strong, her delivery dramatic.
Backed by a trio led by Ian Herman (piano, musical director) with Howie Gordon on drums and Dave Dunaway on bass, the evening, dedicated to her parents, was created, directed and produced by Scott Siegel.
Arlene Wolff is saucy, spicy and filled with piss and vinegar: an inspiration to us all! Go get ‘em Arlene!
Photo: Lisa Reitman Dobi