Even as we watch Karen Wyman and listen to her impassioned singing in her comeback mode, it is easy to envision the impact she must have had when as a teenager she captivated audiences and worked up to being a hit on major TV shows hosted by Dean Martin, Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson, Carol Burnett, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas and others. Now 61. she’s back in the groove singing in the style that made her famous. It was all the rage in that period, the kind of exuberant, swinging, up-front interpretations of the Eydie Gormé variety.
In her “The Second Time Around” performances at the Metropolitan Room (March 5, 12, 19 and 26, 2014), she picked up where she left off after an absence to live her off-stage life, but now wants to let it rip again. And she still has what it takes to reprise the approach that made her famous and earned her recordings with Decca. For old time’s sake, her show began with a recorded introduction of her by Dean Martin on his show.
Wyman proved that she can be sensitively subtle with “A House is Not a Home” and “Always,” but for the most part she tore into her numbers with her big, bold voice. When she sang Cole Porter’s “Night and Day,” it was a hyped-up blast. Ditto for “After You’ve Gone” and “Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive.”
Wyman, looking relaxed in a black outfit on the night I attended, bantered a bit about her six-inch-heels that made her wobble some. But she likes their look. “It’s worth it,” she decided. The shoes gave her some stage height, which never hurts.
Considering Eydie Gormé a kindred spirit, she did a medley of her songs, including a rhythmic “Blame It on the Bossa Nova’” a robust “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?” and a longing “If He Walked Into My Life.”
Wyman looked back with wry amusement on how as a youth she sang the number “Why Can’t I Walk Away?” and noted that “I didn’t know what I was singing about,” adding “Now I know,” followed by demonstrating that indeed she did, getting the pain and suffering and the need to be able to walk away from a relationship if someone could walk away from her.
The way in which she gives her all as reflected in her vocal power and her soaring, sustained notes can make an audience appreciate her anew. She also appeared with the fine back-up by Jay Leonhart on bass, Eddie Caccavale on drums and the veteran John Oddo as her pianist and musical director. The show has been directed by Dennis Deal. An encore run? At the Metropolitan Room 34 West 22nd Street. Phone: 212-206-0440. Reviewed March 27, 2014.