DIVA TALK "At Sea": The Charms and Comedy of Christine Ebersole

Diva Talk   DIVA TALK "At Sea": The Charms and Comedy of Christine Ebersole Diva Talk hits the sea as the Norwegian Dawn travels from New York to Florida and the Bahamas with a host of Broadway performers .
Christine Ebersole
Christine Ebersole

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Well, it’s day four on the grand Norwegian Dawn, and today we docked around noon at Key West, Florida, for the afternoon. Because we weren’t able to dock right by the shore, we were taken over in smaller boats on rocky waters (thank goodness for Dramamine) to the quaint town.

Those who ventured out were told to return to the cruise ship by 8 PM as we would then begin to make our way to the Bahamas.

There was plenty of entertainment to choose from tonight, including Seth Rudetsky’s one man show, Rhapsody in Seth; the premiere of the Taboo documentary; and the cabaret stylings of Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole and Billy Stritch. Because I’d already seen Rudetsky’s touching and often hilarious show and figured the Taboo film will hit New York eventually, I decided to catch Ebersole’s hour-long program at the Stardust Theatre.

Dressed in a black sequin top and black pants, Ebersole strolled onto the stage to sing the charming tune “Fine and Dandy.” Ebersole’s act was a trimmed down version of the show she presented to much acclaim this past February at Feinstein’s at the Regency. Here, as there, she was backed on piano by the talented Billy Stritch, who also solo’d on a few pieces. Ebersole is such a likable performer; from the moment she begins to sing, a warmth seems to spread throughout the audience. Not only is the tone of her voice beautiful, but she is able to use it in a manner of styles. In fact, Ebersole is completely at home in whatever she sings, whether it’s jazz, musical-theatre tunes or standards.

Ebersole titled her show “In Your Dreams” and explained that the evening would be all about the music and she was the audience’s “girl singer.” She followed her brief introduction with a gentle take on “Baby, Dream Your Dream.”

Not only is Ebersole a gifted vocalist and interpreter, she is also remarkably funny. She spoke about both her and her accompanist’s backgrounds. Ebersole, it seems, is from the village of Winnetka, which “is an Indian word for affluent gentile.” Stritch, she said, is from Texas, which in Latin means “death penalty.”

Among the highlights of Ebersole’s show were a lovely version of Oklahoma!’s “Surrey with the Fringe on Top”; a slowed-down rendition of “The Folks Who Live on the Hill,” which ended with a beautiful, sustained final note; a belty version of 42nd Street’s “Lullaby of Broadway”; and a terrific “My Ship.” On the latter Ebersole also imitated a trumpet solo with her voice to dazzling effect.

Before her final number, Ebersole said how thrilled she was to be a part of the premiere voyage of "r family vacations." She then proceeded to deliver a touching medley of “Put All Your Dreams Away” and “Dreamland.” Her, encore, “There’s a Boat Dat’s Leaving Soon for New York,” again brought the audience to its feet.

Well, that’s all for now. Happy sailing, and, of course, happy diva-watching!

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