In her recent appearance at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel with her “Kidding on the Square” show, Emily Bergl was such a hit that she has returned for encore performances on Monday nights (November 21-December 19). Having missed her the first time around, I have now caught up with her and can report that she lives up to the accolades.
Bergl, best known for her TV work in “Desperate Housewives,” shows that she can be a dynamo on the cabaret stage. She is cute, perky, trim and a bundle of energy. She has a pleasing, versatile voice, is a skilled actress in delivering a song and she provides original takes on a wide assortment of numbers, rendering them fresh and honed to her effervescent personality. She has the gift of digging into the past and coming up with results geared to the present.
On the night I caught her act she looked fabulously sexy in a long, slinky gray gown. Before the show was over she had first shed to a flattering mini, and then with the help of woman in the audience unzipping her, stripped to an even scantier outfit. Bergl knows how to make the most of her figure.
She at first put her own romantic and yearning imprint on “Mad About the Boy” She also sang “Ten Cents a Dance,” reflecting the pain that defines he life of a dance hall hostess. Her informal patter included a nostalgic nod to the time when “people had the attention span to listen to an entire ‘f------ song.”
Bergl turns to comedy with “Bei Mir Bist Du Schön,” spoofing various methods of pronouncing “Schön” by wandering among audience members and asking them to sing “Schön.” She can get laughs playing around herself with a mock German accent.
Bergl interacts with her pianist Jonathan Mastro, who engages in a supportive singing role. Ritt Henn is her bass player and Sarna Lapine has directed her show.
Bergl spends quite a bit of time interacting with audience members. “Now let’s get down to business” she said, as she turned on her sex appeal and approached various patrons. I’m not fond of this sort of thing and have found it rather out of place in a sophisticated environment such as the Oak Room, although the audience seemed to enjoy her antics.
Bergl really doesn’t need such shtick. Her songs, conversation and comedy from the stage are ingredients enough to showcase her as a bubbly, immensely enjoyable entertainer who can hold a room in the palm of her hand. Bergl would seem to be due for many return engagements. Reviewed at the Oak Room Supper Club of the Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street. Reservations: 212-840-6800 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.