By Tulis McCall
Look, I know the Brits are having a bugger-all time of it across the pond. Truth be told, it may well be as a result of Dillie Keane not being present and accounted for over there. With her combination of wit, observation, honesty and musical expertise she would no doubt have kept the entire UK on course and not let it drift off to wherever it is it has drifted off to. While we have the astonishing pleasure of her company and her many talents, the UK’s home fires have withered to a paltry little pile of coals. Thousands of dazed people are wandering the streets as if recreating The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Well – too bad for them.
Keane, some of you may remember, is a member of the trio Fascinating Aïda that performed at the Brits Off Broadway Festival back in 2009 when the Festival was properly placed smack in the middle of the Holiday Season. This year she is appearing on her own, accompanied by the most excellent pianist and magician Michael Roulston who appeared here in New York with Harold Sanditen.
Keane is a brilliant performer who takes no prisoners. She begins the evening with a number that is delicious. A woman out on the town ends up far, far from home and with no memory of how she got there, nor who all those people are. Keane praises the present day – the internet makes it so easy to meet people without the bother of leaving home. And you can be any age you wish! With a voice that stretches from gravely to lilting Keane scoops us up into each story with grace. She sings of regret with a surprising Little Shadows. She sings of friendships and dear ones. She sings of enemies of the romantic kind both male and female. On and on the stories flow – and Deane is as excellent a story teller as she is a chanteuse, so every moment is a delicious morsel.
Her connection to roots of English Music Hall never waivers. The songs (all of which she has written, some in partnership with Adèle Anderson) are each a story, a small play. She confesses to visiting with clairvoyants, two of which predicted enormous life events. She herself is a little clairvoyant she tells us. Once she wrote a song about rain – and then it did. Go figure.
Keane rages mightily and often at the ping-pong looniness of love as a Woman of a Certain Age. She sings of its frustrations, impossibilities and joys.Keane is fierce, independent and vulnerable. She let’s you into inner rooms that most folks wouldn’t share, even if they knew they had them. She sings about yearning for love, recovering from failed relationships, rejoicing in being alone, and of love late in life when one feels out of practice. She sings of sweet, sweet friendships. She sings of idiots and mistakes.
I am not just an abandoned suitcase on the platform of life, she says. Indeed she is not. Keane is delicious and vibrant and vital down to her lacquered toes. She is, in short, not to be missed. Seeing her is like having a Vitamin B shot. You will leave the theatre feeling like a Roman Candle.
This show has only one more week to play, so stop reading and make a reservation. You can thank me later.
Hello, Dillie – by Dillie Keane and Adèle Anderson, Directed by Simon Green (US) and Michael Fitzgerald (UK); Featuring Michael Roulston at the piano; lighting Design Mike Robertson
59E59 Theaters (Elysabeth Kleinhans, Artistic Director; Peter Tear, Executive Producer; Brian Beirne, Managing Director) is thrilled to welcome Dillie Keane (from ~ Fascinating Aida) back to Brits Off Broadway with the US premiere of HELLO DILLIE, written by Ms. Keane and Adele Anderson, and directed by Simon Green and featuring Michael Roulston on piano. Produced by Pleasance Theatre Trust Ltd, HELLO DILLIE has a limited engagement through Sunday, July 3. The performance schedule is Tuesday – Thursday at 7:30 PM; Friday at 8:30 PM; Saturday at 2:30 PM & 8:30 PM; and Sunday at 3:30 PM. Performances are at 59E59 Theaters (59 East ss” Street, between Park and Madison Avenues). Tickets are $25 ($17.50 for 59E59 Members). To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or visit www.5ge59.org.