Colleen McHugh opened her show, Change of a Dress: Songs of Fashion, with “The Lady in Red.” The lyric—“shining with originality… what a glamorality!”—perfectly describes the show. McHugh offered a selection of material dealing with issues of clothing and fashion from a wide variety of sources. Highlights included a Peggy Lee-esque approach to the ZZ Top hit “Sharp Dressed Man,” a lovely, relaxed take on “Buttons and Bows,” a tender reading of the Tom Waits song, “Rainbow Sleeves,” and witty renditions of Cole Porter’s “Where Would You Get Your Coat?” and Grey Gardens’s “The Revolutionary Costume for Today.” She also reminded the audience of the comedy/improv chops she developed as a Second City company member by ad-libbing a song based on an audience member’s tale of a fashion nightmare.
When a cabaret artist delivers as comprehensive and seamless a package as McHugh does, it is easy to overlook the individual elements—vibrant stage presence, terrific voice, intelligent phrasing, impeccable comic timing—that make the performance so good. Musical Director Tedd Firth deserves particular praise for delivering arrangements that balance variety with a cohesive, coherent overall sound and arrangements that fit McHugh’s voice and persona like a couture gown. Bassist Adam Neely also provided solid support.
July 21, 2011