Obesession, Recession and Hope
Pacific Resident Theater
Carolyn Mignini is a singer in complete control of her vocal instrument.
Whether losing herself completely in Truman Capote and Harold Arlen’s “I Never Has Seen Snow;” or making fun of her full soprano range in the over-the-top “Paradise,” by Herb Nacio Brown and Arthur Freed; or inquiring, in a sumptuous arrangement, “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” by Burton Lane and Yip Harburg, she is always on top of the material.
Mignini — who starred in Tintypes and other Broadway shows — is making a return of sorts to performing with her show, It’s Love: Obsession, Recession and Hope, with a series of weekly one-nighters through March 22 at the Pacific Resident Theater in Venice, Calif., before moving on to more traditional cabaret venues in Los Angeles and New York.
She tells her audience early on that “singing in my full voice” is what makes her happy, but that is clear from the moment she opens her mouth. That broad smile, that devilish look in her eyes and the natural poses she strikes invite listeners in and holds them with the beauty of her instrument. And when Mignini opens her throat to its full vocal power, as in Craig Carnelia’s “I Met a Man Today,” you know this is a woman who loves what she’s doing.
Interspersed with the music are brief free-verse poems — what Mignini calls “musings” — that she has written over the years. (Sample: “Today I realized I’m too old to die young. It’s comforting — I think.”) They are trenchant and amusing and usually cue the next song — an original addition to an array of musical standards.
Her show covers a broad timeframe — from Cole Porter (“Between You and Me”) to Arlen and Harburg (“Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe”) to Frank Loesser and Hoagy Carmichael (“Small Fry”) to Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn (“Saturday Night Is the Loneliest Night of the Week”) to Leonard Bernstein, Comden and Green (the title song) right up to Michele Browerman and Karen Gottlieb (the brilliant “Take a Bite”) and Christine Lavin (“Regretting What I Said”) — and her timeless style works for each period.
Mignini is accompanied by Bill Schneider, whose keyboard work is impeccable. The two are totally in sync at all times.
Whether in full soprano mode, Broadway belt or somewhere in between, Carolyn Mignini owns the stage — and any audience lucky enough to be listening in.
February 15, 2009