San Francisco chanteuse Wesla Whitfield returns to New York City to sing I'm in the Mood for Love, a new cabaret show of songs by composer Jimmy McHugh, with pianist-husband, Mike Greensill, at Arci's Place Jan. 18-Feb. 12.
Bassists Ken Miller and Michael Moore will also join Whitfield and Greensill on the exploration of songs including "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "Sunny Side of the Street," "Don't Blame Me" and more.
The show played San Francisco's Plush Room in fall 1999. While not a musical theatre superstar, composer McHugh (1894-1969) did write for the stage, and his hit songs endure. Blackbirds of 1928 with lyricist Dorothy Fields gave us "Diga, Diga, Doo," "I Must Have That Man" and "I Can't Give You Anything But Love." He also wrote scores for Hello, Daddy (1928) and International Revue (1930), the latter of which begat "Exactly Like You" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street."
The Streets of Paris (1939) gave us "South American Way." As the Girls Go was McHugh's last score, in 1940.
Performances for the Whitfield show are 9 PM Tuesday-Thursday, 8:30 PM and 11 PM Friday-Saturday at the Italian-themed Arci's, 450 Park Avenue South between 30th and 31st streets. For information about the Arci's gig ($26 cover, $15 minimum), call (212) 532-4370. *
In fall 1998, Whitfield sang songs and spoke of her life in the cabaret show, Life Upon the Wicked Stage, at Off-Broadway's Kaufman Theatre. Known for her sunny, swinging interpretations of pop standards and show tunes at nightspots on both coasts, told Playbill On-Line she wanted to try something new, so in the solo stage show she weaved anecdotes about her life with such tunes as "Almost Like Being in Love" and "There's No Business Like Show Business." Among her tales was the rarely discussed, 1977 random shooting that left her unable to walk. The fiftysomething Whitfield sang and talked about her view from "this position in life."
Her following in New York is rooted in her 1993 debut at (and subsequent returns to) the Algonquin Hotel.
-- By Kenneth Jones