By Tom Alvarez
Indianapolis Performing Arts Examiner
Examiner.com has reviewed most of the performers who have graced The Cabaret at the Columbia Club stage during its 7-year history. And except for, possibly, Meow, Meow, billed as a "post-postmodern cabaret diva," (she performed there in 2014) Jane Lynch, was probably the most offbeat. This writer saw the first of her four shows, titled "See Jane Sing!" that were presented at The Cabaret Saturday through Monday.
Emmy and Golden Globe Lynch who is most well known for her role as irascible Sue Sylvester on FOX's "Glee," is the host of NBC's "Hollywood Game Night." The actor and singer's theatre credits include a stint on Broadway as Miss Hannigan in "Annie." Movie goers will remember her as Julia Child's (Meryl Streep) sister, Dorothy, in the 2009 film, "Julia & Julia."
Accompanying Lynch was the Tony Guerrero Quintet consisting of Tony Guerrero (trumpet), Mark Visher (sax), Matthew Johnson (drums), David Siebels (piano/keyboard), and David Miller (Bass). Opening for Lynch, the obviously seasoned band performed "I've Never Been in Love Before," and a medley of songs from "West Side Story."
Later the band was joined by vocalist Tim Davis. Possessing a velvety voice and rakish good looks, Jensen, evoking "Ol' Blue Eyes," crooned "Come Fly with Me," and "Take Another Swing at Love." The fifteen minute set ended with Guerrero's homage, raspy voice and all, to Louis Armstrong, as he sang "When You're Smiling."
By the time Lynch took to the stage, the audience was suitably warmed up— resulting in the tall and regal looking comedian, known for her acerbic wit, and mock-serious delivery, being welcomed enthusiastically by a sold out audience made up of obvious fans.
Lynch displayed an appealing vocal tone and versatile range throughout her set that had no theme or narrative, consisting of songs that had no relationship to one another. Described as "anti-cabaret," by Lynch, her show was purposely free form and, in a word, silly. Opening with the nonsensical "If Wishes Were Rainbows," Lynch followed with the jazzy "Slappin' the Cakes," replete with hilarious sexual references.
The dynamics of "See Jane Sing," which up to that point were already spirited, became even more so once Kate Flannery (Meredith Palmer) from "The Office" joined Lynch. She played the role of the star's goofy sidekick for the remainder of the show. Starting off with a duet of "Mr. Monotony," followed by "Far From the Home," the longtime friends showed easy rapport, playing off each other. Demonstrating the deadpan humor that she does best, Lynch and Flannery then sang two songs from Christopher Guest's 2003 folk music mockumentary, "A Mighty Wind." One was "Blood on the Coal," a satirical folk song about a train wreck in a coal mine and the earnest "Skeletons of Quinto." Both are sung in the film by the fictional group the Folksmen.
Returning to join Lynch and Flannery was Davis, who essentially played the quintessential straight man to the two comediennes. An arranger for "Glee," Davis completed an accomplished trio that executed fine harmony for the remainder of the evening, performing songs that included "Mairzy Doats," "King of the Road," and a medley of songs considered misogynistic, such as "It All Depends on You," "You'll Be a Woman Soon," "Seventeen," and "I Won't Last a Year Without You."
A highlight of the show, and a moment that elicited uproarious laughter, was what Davis jokingly referred to as a "Minaj a trois,"— the most unlikely song selection of the evening—Niki Minaj's "Anaconda." The experience of hearing Lynch rapping and the image of her two cohorts lifting her coat to reveal her shaking posterior is one this reviewer won't soon forget.
The encore served to reinforce the rollicking, absurdity of the entire show when Lynch, Flannery and Davis performed a medley of songs that supposedly made them cry when they were kids. Included were "Puff the Magic Dragon," "Seasons in the Sun," "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," and "Honey, I Miss You." The last song performed was a parody of the Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit," titled "Ask Alice," with lyrics that referenced "The Brady Bunch."
Over the years, as was mentioned previously, this writer has seen most of the world class entertainers that have played The Cabaret. Many of them took themselves too seriously, with some to the point of pretentiousness. Not so Lynch and company—making for entertainment that was not only refreshing for its smart humor but also for the completely unpredictable nature of its screwball content.
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"Best in class. A truly delightful experience - over the top!"Cabaret Guest