Stage and screen star Martha Plimpton entertained audiences with her solo concert debut, Martha Plimpton Sings?, Jan. 16 as part of Lincoln Center American Songbook series at New York City's Allen Room. The three-time Tony Award nominee explained the question mark in the title to the evening crowd (which included such stage folk as Ethan Hawke, director Daniel Sullivan and designer Wiliam Ivey Long), admitting that she is not particularly known as a songbird, "But when Lincoln Center asks if you want to have an evening, you don't go: 'eh.'"
The brassy New York native — who made her musical debut on Broadway in Pal Joey — peppered the evening with a few show tunes in an eclectic mix of songs by The Smiths, John Lennon, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Adele Adkins. Recalling her early childhood (having been conceived, as she said, by parents Keith Carradine and Shelley Plimpton during the original run of Hair), she sang that musical's "Colored Spade." She then joked about how she oddly knew all the lyrics to that song, yet not any of the words to songs from "Mary Poppins."
Plimpton also shared how, for her birthday one year, her mother surprised her with tickets to Peter Pan starrring Sandy Duncan on Broadway. That's where her desire to perform took wing. She then sung the musical's "Neverland." For her closer, she performed a mix of The New Yorkers' "I Happen to Like New York" and Annie's "N.Y.C."
Backed by a six-piece band led by music director Dan Lipton (The Coast of Utopia, Don't Quit Your Night Job), Plimpton was joined on a few songs by "The Real Blonde Girls": Bridget Everett (At Least It's Pink) and Abbey O'Brien (Pal Joey, Spamalot). For her encore, the newfound songstress lent her supple voice to a suitably-titled Tom Waits tune: "Martha."