Having so enjoyed international chanteuse Adrienne Haan singing a program dedicated to the works of Kurt Weill in 2017 (See Search and Cabaret for review), I was eager to attend her reprise of the show in a new engagement, this time last night at The Triad (March 27, 2019). It turned out to be another supreme evening with Haan again demonstrating why she should be acclaimed as the first lady of cabaret today.
Dazzling looking in a black silk tuxedo, Haan immediately took command with her interpretation of “My Ship” from the Broadway show “Lady in the Dark.” The production projected musical weight, because Haan had strong accompaniment by a six-piece group, with her long-time musical director Richard Danley at the piano along with the Novembergruppe Quintet, including band leader Dan Levinson on clarinet, alto saxophone; Jonathan David Russell, violin; Vinny Raniolo, guitar and banjo; Jared Engel, bass and tuba, and Mike Campenni, drums. The combination provides extra oomph to back up Haan’s singing, in contrast to some singers accompanied by just a piano and bass. This is serious stuff.
One thing about Haan is that she projects so much enthusiasm into the songs that flow from her, and also that she is such a skillful actress in delivering lyrics that you get the impression she is having a grand time and wants to be sure you share it with her. She makes you feel that she probably has about a thousand more songs ready to unfurl, which, if you have followed her, is reflected in her variety of program themes. All this, of course, takes meticulous preparation.
Haan dispenses lots of information about Weill, whose career was cut short when he died in 1950 at the age of 50. She covers his German period (Haan is also from Germany), his fleeing from the Nazi regime, and his re-establishing himself in the United States and catching the spirit of musical theater here.
Haan spans the territory. One may have heard “Pirate Jenny” from “The Threepenny Opera” many times, but Haan brings new color and terror to that number. In contrast, she can be very funny singing “The Saga of Jenny” from the Broadway show “Lady In the Dark,” a number about the gal named Jenny, who couldn’t make up her mind and “in twenty-seven languages she couldn’t say no.”
There is, of course, “Mack the Knife,” or “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer” as it is called in Germany, another from “The Threepenny Opera.” Her accent was very funny when she introduced Weill’s “Alabama Song,” mimicking what the state sounded like to her—Alabaaaama—when she visited there.
There were so many treats in her program, including “Surabaya Johnny” from “Happy End,” “Speak Low” from “One Touch of Venus,” and the poignant “I’m a Stranger Here Myself,” also from “One Touch of Venus,” among many other selections, whether reflecting Weill’s collaboration with Bertolt Brecht or his other musical ventures.
Haan likes to at some point stroll among audience members. She’ll address a lyric to someone in particular, or muss up gentleman’s hair. It’s part of her intimate approach and doesn’t come across as corny, as can be the case with some who try this.
The show was directed by Barry Kleinbort. Haan is now an entertainer in residence at The Triad. Her next show is May 22, 7 p.m and called “Berlin, Mon Amour,” created to celebrate the 100th centennial of the Weimar Republic. At The Triad, 158 West 72nd Street. Phone: 212-362-2590. Reviewed March 28, 2019.