Diane Pancel

Ladies of Hollywood

M Bar
Hollywood, CA
Diane Pancel is a small blonde with a big, brassy voice that’s capable of rising to an all-out belt or falling to a gentle purr, as the moment calls for. In her tribute to the music of Doris Day, Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, Pancel occasionally recreated the sound of the originals, using the songs’ original arrangements: a warm, romantic Day-like vocal on “It’s Magic” (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn); a fast-paced “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” (Leo Robin/Jule Styne) as Monroe sang it in the movie version of Gentleman Prefer Blondes; and the young Garland’s full-throated belt on “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” (James F. Hanley). But, otherwise, she put her own stamp on songs they made famous by applying her own powerful vocal abilities.

Among Day’s songs, Pancel brought a dreamy warmth to “Secret Love” (Sammy Fain/Paul Francis Webster, Calamity Jane), a big belt to “Que Sera Sera” (Jay Livington/Ray Evans) — a song, she told us, that Day did not want to record, and a brashness to “I Can Do Without You” (Livington/Evans, also Calamity Jane) in a duet with her Musical Director John Randall, who provided excellent support as both pianist and singer.

In the Monroe section, Pancel stretched out across the piano for a sensual “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” (Cole Porter), cooed her way through “Bye Bye Baby” (Robin/Styne), and sang an intense version of “I’m Through with Love” (Gus Kahn/Matty Melneck/Fud Livingston).

In her Garland tribute, Pancel performed “The Boy Next Door” (Hugh Martin, Meet Me in St. Louis) with warmth, “Gotta Have Me Go with You” (Harold Arlen/Ira Gershwin, A Star Is Born) with enthusiasm — again joined vocally by Randall, and “The Man That Got Away” (Arlen/Gershwin) with emotional power and dramatic flair.

Her encore — “Over the Rainbow” (Arlen/ E.Y. Harburg, The Wizard of Oz) — was thoughtful and expressive and showed off her magic as a cabaret artist to watch.

Elliot Zwiebach
Cabaret Scenes
October 19, 2012