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But I Was Cool

Into a spotlight on the stage of the cavernous, dark-draped LunaPark steps jazz seductress Betsyann Faiella, whose swinging, self-assured style conjures memories of a nightclub in times gone by. This vibrant, crystal-voiced alto charms and disarms, all the while offering a touching vulnerability.

Into a spotlight on the stage of the cavernous, dark-draped LunaPark steps jazz seductress Betsyann Faiella, whose swinging, self-assured style conjures memories of a nightclub in times gone by. This vibrant, crystal-voiced alto charms and disarms, all the while offering a touching vulnerability.

Faiella’s honesty and freshness of presentation — rather than an unusual or powerful voice — make her a delight to view, even when she occasionally forgets her lyrics.

Her act is a fun way to start the evening, but she’s not yet a headliner, due to show’s brevity and her lack of dynamism. To Faiella’s credit, she presents a new point of departure and a new energy with each tune. Her songs of past lives and loves resound with plaintive longing, not simple nostalgia, but a heartfelt sense of loss.

Faiella feels the necessity to explain to the audience why she chose each song; this practice bogs down, as each piece is announced as “a really beautiful song, really,” or as a number that describes “an experience we’ve all had.”

Setting aside the gratuitous “cabaret filler music,” Faiella is at her best with two Jacques Brel numbers: “Ne me quittes pas,” which she performs meticulously in French, and “Le Valse a mille temps.” It’s too bad her repertory doesn’t contain more Brel, for which she shows a propensity.

Backing her are Andy Howe at the keyboard and Karl Vincent, with a magic bass , who periodically get to demonstrate their considerable talents as they jam during breaks in the singing.

But I Was Cool

(LunaPark, West Hollywood; 110 seats; $ 8 cover)

Production: Presented by Chantoozie Prods. Opened and reviewed June 25, 1994; runs through July 9. Running time: 1 hour.

Cast: With: Betsyann Faiella, vocals; Andy Howe, piano; Karl Vincent, bass.

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