DIVA TALK: Marti Webb, At Last, On a Sunday A Journey in Song & Dance

By Andrew Gans
24 Jan 2014

Don Black, Marti Webb and Cameron Mackintosh, following Tell Me on a Sunday, 2014

The one-week run of Tell Me was staged in the intimate St. James Theatre, a relatively new venue that also features an adjoining restaurant. It was exciting to walk into the theatre and see the stage set up similarly to the BBC TV broadcast. In fact, the performance also included the same Mickey Mouse phone that is featured during "Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad," although the receptionist was definitely not voiced by Elaine Stritch this go round.

Simply dressed in a blouse and slacks, Webb entered to thunderous applause. One suspects many in the audience were long-time fans and had watched the BBC broadcast years ago. Webb possesses great comic timing, which was especially evident in her delivery of the "Letter(s) Home." I was particularly moved by her rendition of "Come Back With the Same Look in Your Eyes": Her joyous waving to her departing lover was touching, especially knowing that this love affair was ill-fated. Her delivery of the title tune was simple and haunting — she slowed down the line "take me to a park covered with trees" to dramatic effect, and she had much fun with an energetic "I'm Very You, You're Very Me." It was also great to hear "Nothing Like You've Ever Known," a song cut for the Broadway production, as well as "Last Man in My Life," which was replaced by "Unexpected Song" for New York. Webb also summoned anger well in a particularly devastating "Let's Talk about You" that ended with a forcefully belted, "Are you absolutely sure you don't want to stay for tea?!" The evening ended with new lyrics to "Take That Look off Your Face," which included references to Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx as well as the Guggenheim Museum. The actress was greeted with a well-deserved standing ovation. (Afterwards, my teary-eyed, 78-year-old mom, who traveled with me, said Webb's performance was worth the trip.)

For those who are fans of the song cycle, the complete list of songs from the St. James outing follows:

Take That Look off Your Face
Let Me Finish
It's Not the End of the World If I Lose Him
First Letter Home
Sheldon Bloom
Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad
You Made Me Think You Were in Love (the original version, with the lines "Last thing at night you used to call me...")
It's Not the End of the World If He's Younger
Second Letter Home
Last Man in My Life
Come Back with the Same Look in Your Eyes
Let's Talk About You
Take That Look off Your Face-Reprise
Tell Me on a Sunday (the complete version, with the added lines "Don't run off in the pouring rain, don't call me...)
I Love New York
It's Not the End of the World If He's Married
I'm Very You, You're Very Me
Third Letter Home
Nothing like You've Ever Known
Let Me Finish
Take That Look off Your Face