A half-lit room, small tables with people murmuring pre-show whispers sipping drinks, a mature, knowing crowd…with a little aroma of smoke and without the AC vents, I could picture myself in Soho basement nitespot, taking in the ten o’clock set.
Yet I found myself buried in the inner sanctum of Signature Theatre in Arlington, taking in the Signature Sisters, a trio of talented women whose polished, diverse deliveries were well received. Their 70 minute set was crafted as a sister act, channeling the first great gal group, the Andrew Sisters, and veering off just whenever they wanted.
…a trio of talented women whose polished, diverse deliveries were well received.
Sherri L. Edelen, Susan Derry and Florrie Bagel–all recognizable Signature talents–combined to give a fresh spin on several songs. Edelen was enjoyable in the spunky “Sunny Side of the Street” with expressive, deep resonance. Derry, with wide eyes and a sparkling stage presence, is a classical soprano who blended well with the others. Her “Comes Once in a Lifetime” showcased her full range. Bagel added her smooth, easy vocals in “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman” in an interesting rescore. (Was that a tune-fusion?)
The crisp timing and vocal blending on choral numbers is the famous challenge of making the difficult look effortless. I also give a nod to Director and Creator Walter Ware III for song selection and giving new perspective to several songs. What stood out in the performance was how comfortable all three women were in their presentation and easy banter between each other.
My personal highlight was the performance of Joni Mitchell’s classic “Both Sides Now.” Their a capella delivery, slowed down to half pace, gave new insight to the famous lyrics and their harmonies were syrupy smooth.
After an initial turn with hand-held mikes, the singers went to mike stands, which worked better visually and vocally. Music Director and accompanist Marc Lilley provided piano and while some backbeat could have been used, the simplicity of it allowed the voices to be front and center.
In a turnabout ending, the gals wrapped up the night with a boys band offering, performing a Frankie Valli standard and challenging the next Cabaret offering, the Signature Tenors, (February 2015) to reach into the sister band catalog. The bar has been set!
Running Time: 70 minutes without an intermission.
Signature Sisters is part of Signature Theatre’s Cabaret Series, 2400 Campbell Ave, Arlington, VA, from Oct. 21-25. For tickets to this or other performances in the 2014-15 season, call the Signature Box Office at 703 820 9771 or online.