Among the last performers (this reporter among them) to close Chicago’s Maxim’s as a cabaret venue, Anne and Mark Burnell did all proud in their engaging duo show, Tales of Our Travels. Mark has long been appreciated for his excellent musicality, effectively understated interpretations and droll wit. (He has been representing Chicago’s cabaret community well as a faculty member of Cabaret Conference at Yale.) That said, in this show, it is wife Anne who positively shimmers. Not only has she clearly overcome pitch issues that had been occasionally troublesome in prior performances, she brought interpretive energy and sophistication that connected the audience throughout. She camps her way through “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady” and finds the sexual wit in “Hungry Man.” While Mr. and Mrs. Burnell share stories of their adventures abroad, they are ones to whom we all relate: last-minute packing and establishing new friendships everywhere through the universal language of music. The Burnell duo smartasses well through Sir Noël’s “Why Do the Wrong People Travel?” and offer up their signature a capella jazz counterpoint finale with ”King of the Road.” Travel with team Burnell and you‘ll sail first class.
May 9, 2012