Singer Barbara Lowin deserves to be seen in cabaret bookings more often. She has been a pleasure to experience in the past, and she demonstrated her skills and audience appeal once again in her performances at Don’t Tell Mama, one of which I caught on June 7, 2015. I have said previously that we get two Barbaras for the price of one, and that is even truer now, except that I’d add a third comedy side blending ever more impressively with her increasingly comfortable cabaret fit.
She came out swinging with the bouncy “I Just Found Out About Love” (Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson) and “I Like It Here” (Alec Wilder and Loonis McGlohon), the second also the title of her new show. It was a jaunty exhibition of Lowin in full cabaret mode.
Add Barbara’s beautiful, cultured voice that enables her to deliver thrillingly an operatic-style number like “Yours Is My Heart Alone” (Franz Lehar with English lyric by Harry B. Smith), and you have Barbara doubled.
With Lowin, you are also assured of a sense of fun—call it the third side of her. She was very amusing singing “I Am a Vamp” (Mischa Spoliansky, English lyric by Jeremy Lawrence), which she called a song from old Berlin. Lowin gave it the full vamp treatment.
Her gift for infusing comedy into her repertoire was also delightfully evident in her singing of “I Played Fiddle for the Czar” (Harry Revel and Mack Gordon), spiced with a Russian accent and a hilarious interpretation. I have heard her do her Russian bit with a different song in a previous cabaret appearance.
Other numbers in her varied repertoire conveyed her vocal skills, often with an affection for the romantic. She embraced the music and lyrics of “Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” a tribute to the film as well as to composer Michel Legrand and the English lyrics by Norman Gimbel, and recognition of the performance by the young Catherine Deneuve. Lowin engaged in part in a duet with her musical director and pianist Paul Greenwood.
Her cabaret appearance this time around ambitiously included “Fancy Meeting You” (Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg); “We Kiss in a Shadow” (Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein); “Secret Love” (Sammy Fein and Paul Francis Webster); “The Topic of My Life” (David Friedman and Muriel Robinson); “Oblivion” (Astor Piazzola and J. Clerc); “At the Ball” (Peter I. Tchaikovsky (with an English lyric by Lowin); “Charade” (Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer); “Spring Spring Spring” (Gene De Paul and Mercer) and “We’ll Gather Lilacs” (Ivor Novello), the latter a poignant World War II song expressing the longing for soldiers gone away to battle.
Lowin expressed her love for singing with “As Long as There’s Music” (Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn). For her encore number Lowin entered a philosophical mode with a number that applies perspective to the loves and woes of the present, “A Hundred Years from Today” (Victor Young and Ned Washington).
Greenwood melded easily at the piano as well as chiming in vocally with Lowin at times, and Boots Maleson added to the beat with his talent on bass. Lowin paid tribute justly due them, and also enthusiastically acknowledged her director, Scott Barnes. At Don’t Tell Mama, 343 West 46th Street. Phone: 212-757-0788, or www.donttellmamanyc.com. Reviewed June 9, 2015.