It has been a while since I reviewed Adrienne Haan, but I caught up with this fabulous entertainer again as she climaxed the bill at one of the First International Cabaret Festival programs, this show of the series on February 18, 2016 at the Metropolitan Room. There she was, spectacularly turning on an audience with her out-sized talent wrapped in international culture, whether the songs stemmed from Weimar Republic cabaret in pre-Nazi Germany or the Great American Songbook.
Haan belongs to that breed of singer who can quickly win over an audience and strike up intimacy with taste and an irresistible persona. Of course, a colorful voice is needed to back that up, and Haan excitingly aces that requirement. Whether being breathy or opening up with force, she extracts meaning from lyrics and does it on her own terms without copying the style of others.
Haan, who recently performed in a concert at Carnegie Hall and also in Israel, is well-known internationally. After childhood in Germany, she got a taste of the United States as an exchange student in Texas, and currently lives in New York when she is not traveling to perform.
She opened her Metropolitan Room stint with her sizzling “Pirate Jenny,” combining humor with gleeful revenge in her interpretation of the Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht number from “Threepenny Opera.” Haan is all flashing eyes, striking gestures, sexy body language and an ability to communicate with seductive directness. She works smoothly with her long-time pianist Richard Danley.
She can stroll through an audience mussing a man’s hair or singing to someone whom she selects with good judgment. You may at first think Dietrich when she begins to sing “Falling in Love Again (Can’t Help It),” but it doesn’t take long to think purely Haan. It’s the same with “Johnny.”
On this program, with a generous selection of material beyond what’s mentioned here, she launched into showing her appreciation for songs characterizing the American musical experience, both Hollywood and Broadway. She packed plenty of verve into such numbers as “Loving That Man of Mine,” “Is You is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?” “’S Wonderful,” “I’ve Got Rhythm,” and in a change of pace, “These Foolish Things.”
She singled me out for a special vocal ribbing. I had questioned her choice of “Over the Rainbow” in one of her programs some years ago, given how Judy Garland owned that song and my view that singers would be wiser to stay away from it. The next time around, she deliberately teased by singing that song at me, and she mischievously needled me by aiming the number at me again at the recent show. Adrienne, I give up. You do a terrific job with it.
By the time she was finished dominating that evening’s program, there was the well-earned standing ovation, with attendees lining up in the lobby afterward to tell her of their appreciation. Rank Adrienne Haan as among the very best of cabaret artists today, and beyond that, an accomplished concert artist. You can count on her to put on one helluva show. At the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street. Reviewed February 20, 2016.