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Donna Lynne Champlin

Donna Lynne Champlin, who appeared in the recent revival of "Sweeney Todd" and sings in the Sultans of Swing Big Band, is a witty storyteller who links each of her songs with an extravagant narrative. In a 90-minute perf that is often manic and irreverent, Champlin has an exhausting edge. Full of sparkle and sophistication she offers an incisive portrait of a fledgling actor with drive and purpose, accented with an abundance of cheery patter.

Donna Lynne Champlin, who appeared in the recent revival of “Sweeney Todd” and sings in the Sultans of Swing Big Band, is a witty storyteller who links each of her songs with an extravagant narrative. In a 90-minute perf that is often manic and irreverent, Champlin has an exhausting edge. Full of sparkle and sophistication she offers an incisive portrait of a fledgling actor with drive and purpose, accented with an abundance of cheery patter.

Champlin draws from a deep well of material and to accommodate a room full of feverish fans, she passes around a top hat, inviting patrons to reach in and withdraw one of her many zany stories.

“What Is It About Him?” from “The Wild Party'” served the singer as a breathless star-struck novice with a heated crush on actor Brian Darcy James. Every actor in New York seems to have had a turn on “Law and Order” and the audition for the long-running TV show perhaps serves as Champlin’s funniest bit. Relegated to a single line performance in her television debut, she dons a surgical gown in the role of a nurse whose brother is a pedophile. The story is a howl and the song is “Family” from “Dreamgirls.”

The worst audition she ever had prompts the pertly coy confessional “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No,” from “Oklahoma.” but nutty recollections aside, she manages some plaintive renderings with “Over the Rainbow” and a traditional Irish bar room ballad, “The Parting Glass.”

Tom King provides bold and flavorful piano support.

Donna Lynne Champlin

Birdland; 150 capacity; $35.

  • Production: Presented by Jim Caruso's Cast Party in association with Theatertmania.com's Broadway at Birdland. Piano, Tom King. Reviewed Sept. 30, 2007.
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