Review: ‘Even More Weill’

Stephanie Vlahos, mezzo-soprano with the Los Angeles Music Center Opera, has been moonlighting for the last couple of years with programs of international pop music, notably French cabaret songs (in last year's show "Elle qui chante") and the music of Kurt Weill. "Even More Weill," currently playing Wednesday nights at the Gardenia in Hollywood, is her second Weill program, following "Weill Thoughts" at the Largo two years ago. It's not as ambitiously staged as "Elle qui chante," which featured dancers and a small band, but retains many of the theatrical elements that set Vlahos' act apart from most cabaret singers.

Stephanie Vlahos, mezzo-soprano with the Los Angeles Music Center Opera, has been moonlighting for the last couple of years with programs of international pop music, notably French cabaret songs (in last year’s show “Elle qui chante”) and the music of Kurt Weill. “Even More Weill,” currently playing Wednesday nights at the Gardenia in Hollywood, is her second Weill program, following “Weill Thoughts” at the Largo two years ago. It’s not as ambitiously staged as “Elle qui chante,” which featured dancers and a small band, but retains many of the theatrical elements that set Vlahos’ act apart from most cabaret singers.

Her black hair close-cropped and slicked down, wielding a prop cane and straddling her chair (when not slinkily draped across the top of Tom McFarlane’s baby grand), Vlahos looks ready to sub for Joel Grey in “Cabaret” at a moment’s notice, though her singing puts her several notches above the entertainment at the Kit Kat Klub.

The songs date from 1929’s “The Threepenny Opera” through “Lost in the Stars” from 1949, with lyrics in German, French and English by hands — uncredited in the show — including Bertolt Brecht, Maxwell Anderson and Ogden Nash. Chestnuts include “Mack the Knife,””Alabama Song” and “The Ballad of Jenny.”

Of greater interest to folks seriously interested in this material, though, are cabaret numbers including “Complainte de la Seine,” a couple of lesser-known “Threepenny” songs, and various other ephemera. And “Lost in the Stars” (Weill/Anderson) is always sublime.

Vlahos displays her classical chops (as it were) somewhat more on the Weill material than in the French program, which is appropriate in that Weill studied classical music before turning to the theater and cabaret.

McFarlane is an excellent accompanist, simultaneously elegant and visceral.

Even More Weill

(Gardenia, Hollywood; 65 seats; $ 10)

Production

Siren Prods. and Victoria Looseleaf present a program in one act, conceived, directed by and starring Stephanie Vlahos; piano, Tom McFarlane.

Creative

Lights, Kevin Peters. Opened Jan. 12, 1994; reviewed Jan. 26; runs through Feb. 23.
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