By Edward Kliszus
It’s a wonderful night to hear and see Dianna Agron at Café Carlyle, a fantastic venue and intimate cabaret performance space of comfort and magnetism. Upon entering, one contemplates those who came before, like Bobby Short, Elaine Stritch, and Eartha Kitt. Contemporary luminaries include Shirley Bassey, Steve Tyrell, Jon Batiste, Isaac Mizrahi, Jeff Goldblum, Jill Kargman, Katharine McPhee, Alan Cumming, Debbie Harry, Rita Wilson, and John Lloyd Young, whose performance I reviewed in 2021.
The walls are adorned by murals drawn by French artist Marcel Vertès. Lighting is subtle, the sound system superb, a small stage with a new Steinway baby grand, incredible musicians accompanying, fabulous food and drink, and excellent staff like bartender John Weekes meeting your every whim (this was his first night in the room).
We enjoyed a lovely dinner featuring a fabulous salmon dish.
The world she invites us into is one of beauty, sophistication, and elegance. Our lovely chanteuse was gorgeously wrapped in a chic, black evening gown with a halter, single-sleeved blouse equipoising her beautiful earrings and jeweled flourishes. She enthralled her audience, leading them through a captivating musical journey of romantic joie de vivre. Any individual concept of time faded; we were in her world and time. The evening fluttered past like a nostalgic summer daydream.
Her alluring badinage is as delightful as her song. She elicits smiles, sighs, sympathy, nods, gentle ovations, and even tears, building anticipation for the next song that elicits the same. She articulates her insightful interpretation of the music and lyrics by singing passionately and with sagacity. She seamlessly transforms her voice, face, and posture to express and communicate the song’s message, akin to the likes of actress Greta Garbo or singers Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland. It’s storytelling at its best.
The song list is carefully crafted. Titles include Love for Sale, Let There Be Love, I Love to Love, Our Day Will Come, You Fascinate Me So, I Wish You Love, Lover Man, Our Love is Here to Stay, Moon River, I Want to Be Evil, and more. Like the seemingly simple word “love,” she’s complex, and the varied intones, stories and emotions of these songs express her intuitive range of hope, desire, elation, disenchantment, and humor. After all, as the muses Calliope and Euterpe inspired the artist creator, we must shrug off the ghosts and memories of love lost or squandered and revel in the adoration that finds us.
The audience did not have enough. Agron sang several encores, finishing with Good Night Sweetheart (by Calvin Carter and James “Pookie” Hudson) that she sang while waving to and walking through the audience.
Simply marvelous! Dianna Agron will be at Café Carlyle through April 9. You’ll need to move quickly to purchase tickets as her show fills the limited space.
Runtime is about 90 minutes.
The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel
35 E 76th St (at Madison Ave.)
New York, NY 10075
Opens 6:30 PM
Reservations can be made by phone at 212.744.1600 or online via Café Carlyle.