That actress Victoria Clark — a 2005 Tony winner for “The Light in the Piazza” — is a fine dramatic singer is a given. But she’s equally at home in musical comedy and jazz. Joined by Ted Sperling and a tip-top 11-piece orchestra — harp included — to sing songs from her recent PS Classics release, “Fifteen Seconds of Grace,” the program accentuated Clark’s versatility as she effortlessly switched from showtune to art song to swinging jazz and back again.
Theater songs ran the gamut from Jerry Herman’s “Before the Parade Passes By” and the Arlen-Harburg “Right as the Rain” to the work of contemporary composers Adam Guettel (“Life Is but a Dream”), Ricky Ian Gordon and Jeff Blumenkrantz. Hollywood was represented by “It Might Be You” (from “Tootsie”) and a gleefully rapid-fire rendition of Johnny Mercer’s “Something’s Gotta Give.”
As an encore, Clark and Sperling served up “Fable,” the closing number from “Piazza.” During the vamp, the singer seemed to layer on 10 years of age and 50 years of social culture, cloaking herself in character. (Clark is a sought-after vocal coach, and this transformation was a lesson in itself.)
Guitarist John Pizzarelli joined in for two numbers that Clark labeled “sassy” — “Someone to Cook For,” a sort of down South variation on “I Can Cook Too” that Pizzarelli wrote with wife Jessica Molaskey, and Kern & Fields’ “Pick Yourself Up.” (At one point, Pizzarelli’s guitar veered close to Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride,” which got a laugh from the patrons.)
For the touching and humanistic “Fifteen Seconds of Grace,” Clark was joined by composer-lyricist Jane Kelly Williams. Williams also penned another winner, “Thomas,” a celebration of Clark’s now 13-year-old son.
Music department, under the direction of Sperling, was impeccable. Arrangements and orchestrations from the album were used, as was most of the orchestra (half of whom were veterans of Sperling’s pit at “Light in the Piazza”). Standouts included trombonist Michael Boschen, Aaron Heick on flute and sax, cellist Peter Sachon — and, of course, Pizzarelli.