In her concert debut for American Songbook, Broadway baby Jane Krakowski brings a sassy and smoldering presence to the stage with a set of sinful songs that in her words display “the use of feminine control, with no apologies.” The Tony-winning diva, who seduced the philandering conductor in “Nine,” appears to have the patent on the art of seduction.
In an off-the-shoulders burgundy gown, she opens her intoxicating hour sprawled on the grand piano with a teasing declaration as Cole Porter’s “Laziest Gal in Town.” She is in possession of a soft, purring voice with the inner strength to belt when the moment brings a need for strength.
The concept of Krakowski’s deliciously saucy program (well scripted with fleeting historical data by Lawrence Maslon), are songs from the roaring ’20s and flirty ’30s, many of which were blue-penciled by the Motion Picture Production Code and the governing Hays Office from films and shows.
The lady is a savvy and confident actor who uses her space wisely, crossing the stage — or rather slinking across — with the savoir-faire of a silver screen goddess. Perched on the edge of the stage, she defines the weariness of a dance hall hostess with the Ruth Etting trademark tune “Ten Cents a Dance.”
In direct contrast, Krakowski takes Noel Coward’s “Mad About the Boy” at an unconventional, torrid tempo, tossing off the “odd diversity of misery and joy” with an air of playful nonchalance. Double entendres are in legion, most pointedly in the Eubie Blake/Andy Razaf 1928 shocker “My Handy Man” and with Porter’s “But in the Morning No.” The latter finds the lady in a playful duet with a droll assist from bassist Jay Leonhart.
With purring finesse, Krakowski revisits the legendary terrain of Marlene Dietrich, Ethel Waters and Mae West. Historical data on West’s arrest on indecency charges and subsequent film fame offer an informative segue for “A Guy Who Takes His Time.” Encore is “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” which served as a coy confessional for a saucy young Mary Martin long before she tidied up her image as Maria von Trapp.
Posed against the scenic evening view of Central Park South, Jane Krakowski makes an imposing concert debut. Cabaret doors would wisely open their doors for her.