In her Manhattan nightclub debut, TV soap queen Susan Lucci gives a sultry and seductive performance that makes the most of her limited vocal resources and even more limited technique. What she offers is a heady dose of glamour and good familiar tunes. The actress is confident and unpretentious, wisely skirting intrusive patter to focus on song.
Every so often a television or film personality takes a spin on the cabaret or Broadway stage. Cybill Shepherd, Sally Kellerman and Kathie Lee Gifford are recent cases in point. Lucci follows the route from her longtime ABC role as Erica Kane in “All My Children” and a 1999 Broadway gig as sharpshooter Annie Oakley in “Annie Get Your Gun.” From the latter, Lucci sings a softly purring version of Irving Berlin’s “They Say It’s Wonderful,” comfortably embracing the intimacy of a small room.
Cradled in tight musical arrangements, Lucci embraces an obvious course through Broadway and Hollywood tuners with familiar standards by Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern and the Gershwins. Love songs are a vital part of the fabric of a cabaret singer’s repertoire, and Lucci mines the romantic songbook with such torchy classics as “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man” and “I’ve Got a Crush on You.” She also wooed her guests with an alluring finger-snappin’ “Fever,” and embraced the Big Apple with Peggy Lee’s “New York City Blues.”
Integrated into the act is the obligatory family scrapbook slide show. The device was most recently featured in Tony Danza’s Regency engagement. Lucci set the snaps to Stephen Sondheim’s protective lullaby, “Not While I’m Around,” adding the Anthony Newley-Leslie Bricusse musical glossy portrait, “Look at That Face.”
La Lucci is backed by a crack quintet, which on occasion roars with the fervor of a big band, most notably in the Ellington-Basie tandem finale of “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” and “All Right, O.K., You Win.” Vet trumpet sideman Glen Drewes soars from time to time, giving Lucci clarion support.