Terri White

Feinstein's at Loews Regency
New York, NY
“I’ll be sweating like a whore in church!” Terri White declared onstage at Feinstein’s as she shed a black rhinestone jacket to reveal a short-sleeved blouse.

White is the gentle tigress of cabaret: candid and amiable, but ready to pounce on any note or lyric that strikes her fancy. She injects “Here’s that Rainy Day” with a brand of bittersweet humor born only of experience, and allows the last note to hover with sensual and technical delight. That complexity was sensitively accompanied by Bobby Peaco (piano) and Ivan Bodley (bass), who deftly shifted from broadway to jazz to gospel to pop in sync with White’s diverse repertoire.

“More than You Know” served as a tribute to White’s wife, Donna Barnett. Both women (and most of the audience) were weeping with joy by the end of the song. White and Barnett had a commitment ceremony onstage at the St. James Theatre during the recent run of Finian’s Rainbow. Indeed, White’s daring, impromptu singing à la Pearl Bailey is best served in comedic songs like “Necessity” from that show. And her impersonation of Nell Carter, whom she understudied in Ain’t Misbehavin’, is worth the cover charge all on its own.

“Here’s to Life,” hocked too often as a twilight manifesto, became an ardent wish for the New Year. The song is in the present tense, and so is White’s intuitive, inimitable way of communicating. In today’s manufactured musical theater, Terri White is the rarest thing of all: an original.

Terri White will return to Feinstein’s on January 30 at 8:30. From May 7- June 19, she will join Bernadette Peters, Elaine Paige, and others in Follies at the Kennedy Center.

Patrick Monahan
Cabaret Scenes
January 16, 2011