As far as red-hot mamas go, Lainie Kazan is the current reigning matriarch. That the renowned singer/Tony-nominated actress ("My Favorite Year") enjoys singing, entertaining, and otherwise communicating to a sophisticated audience her beguiling yet strictly down-to-earth attitude, is evident in her week long engagement at this posh supper club. If the aggressive arrangements of such sure-fire warmer-uppers as "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," "I'm Shootin' High," and "Here's to Life," seemed to put the aim-to-please Kazan on an early offensive, those super charged standards are clearly intended to show off the diva's sturdy voice and in-command personality. Kazan looks great. Her hourglass contours are snugly fitted into a floor-length black satin gown, notable for its crepe off-the-shoulders top. Kazan's slick, polished performance could be considered a model of musical savvy and careful construction.
Rarely letting the occasional electronic feedback and unstable lighting throw her, Kazan soon eased into a more mellow mode with "Over the Rainbows," acknowledging Garland as her mentor. A pulsating medley of "I Fall in Love to Easily," "Love" and "Falling in the Way," and "Come Rain or Come Shine." However, ably supported by a musical trio (piano, bass and drum), Kazan was at her most expressive with the heart-breaking narrative-driven "Guess Who I Saw Today" (from "New Faces of 1952"), and two Harold Arlen favorites "Don't Like Goodbyes," and "The Man That Got Away." It was not going to be over until Kazan gave us her own inimitable take on the current Mae West blitz with "Peel Me a Grape." But it was Kazan's homage to the saucy and raunchy legacy of Sophie Tucker -- "Living Alone and I Like It," and "Some of These Days" plus a few naughty jokes -- that made the intimate room a little hotter and more user friendly than hit had been.