Cabaret star Adrienne Haan believes in building international harmony through song and she dynamically illustrated her point in her show at the Triad last night (July 31). While presidential candidates were debating in Detroit about international relations, Haan was on stage energetically singing in ten languages that reflect her world view and travels as a performer. Her generous hour and one half program was presented with her customary high spirits and integration with her audience that once again demonstrated that she is in my opinion the top modern all-around cabaret entertainer above and beyond ability as a songstress.
This time she made her entrance wearing a sexy outfit consisting of a black top and black shorts covered with sparkling silvery mesh from neck to toe. It never takes long for Haan to personally connect with the crowd, which was already clapping along as she opened with “Willkommen” and “Cabaret” from “Cabaret” (Kander and Ebb), followed by her rousing interpretation of “New York, York New York” (also Kander and Ebb). Haan cements her relationship by sometimes moving teasingly among attendees and singing directly to them.
Accomplished in acting out lyrics with style and movement, including a wiggle here and there, Haan might also succeed at standup comedy if she chose. Her recounting of an episode when she sang in China was completely hilarious. She described getting up in the morning and recoiling at finding chicken feet on the hotel breakfast menu, which sent her scurrying to a nearby Starbucks. Unfortunately, that day she was hit with a bad case of diarrhea. She described going to a drug store where nobody spoke English, and acted out her motions attempting to show a rush out of her derriere to get the personnel to recognize her predicament and describe the right medication.
After having everyone laughing uproariously, Haan proceeded to sing a Chinese 19th century folk song in Mandarin, which she had studied for the occasion. The number was titled “Mo li hua” (“Yasmin Flower Song”).
Haan, whose origins stem from Germany and Luxembourg, also achieved hilarity by singing a renowned “Mary Poppins” number in German. The title mouthful is “Superkalifragilistischexpialigorisch.” You have to hear it to believe it.
Haan provided another example of her ability to sing in German with a number she plucked from a 1931 German film called, “The Man Who Is Looking for His Murderer.” The song’s title is “Wenn Ich Mir Was Wünschen Dürfte” (Friedrich Hollaender).
She does especially well in French, giving her own brand of intensity to both the popular “La vie en rose” (Luis Guglielmi) and “Milord” (George Moustaki), the second inducing more clapping from the audience.
“Bokserboym” (“Carob Tree” by Chava Alberstein) was sung in Yiddish, and Haan also sang a number in Hebrew, “Rikmah Ensoshit Achat” (“One Human Tissue” by Moti Hamer), dedicated to Holocaust Remembrance Day. Haan’s Spanish contribution was her take on the popular “Besame Mucho” (Consuelo Valázquez).
Describing her trip to Sweden, she launched into a number in Swedish, “Gabriellas Sång,” from the Swedish movie “As It Is in Heaven.” Haan even studied some Turkish to be able to sing “Yigidim Aslanim,” written by Zülfü Livaneli in tribute to Mustaf Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey and its first president. Not to ignore Italian, Haan wistfully sang “Con te partirò” (“Time to Say Goodby”).
Of course, she also showed her way with lively interpretations of Americna theater classics—the lilting “So in Love” (Cole Porter) from “Kiss Me Kate” and “You Can Always Count on Me” (David Zippel and Cy Coleman) from “City of Angels” For her encore, grounded solidly in the tradition of Broadway, she served up a lively medley from shows by Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein, Cole Porter and George Gershwin.
After expending so much vibrancy and energy in giving last night’s audience her solid and super-friendly show, Haan announced—one might have guessed--that she was leaving Sunday on another international tour before returning to New York to do her Christmas show. Bon voyage. At the Triad Theater, 158 West 72nd Street. Phone: 212-279-4200.