Photo Credit: Tom Draper

JACKIE DRAPER
Repeal the Blues
The Laurie Beechman Theater
March 24th & April 11th @ 7:00 pm

Jacqueline (Jackie) Draper is one of the most joyous people to ever take the stage. Her eyes literally light up which immediately lets her audience know that they are in good hands and in for a good time. So how does a gal like this, with such positive energy, deliver a Blues Show? Well, she makes it the happiest Blues Show I’ve ever seen and she smartly calls it, “Repeal the Blues”! She even made rainy day songs sound sexy and happy!

Taking the stage, Ms. Draper looked like a million bucks in a sparkly blue dress designed by her good friend Valentina Matytsin. Yes, the dress gets an honorable mention because it was spectacular and take note people, she looked like a star!

Jackie opened the show with a medley of “Go Into Your Dance” (Harry Warren/Al Dubin) with “Shakin’ the Blues Away” (Irving Berlin) into “I’ve Got Them Feelin’ Too Good Today Blues” (Mike Stoller/Jerry Leiber) into “Repeal the Blues” (John Green/James Dyrenforth). We clearly knew where this show was headed. She allowed the music to set the premise of the show. She didn’t have to touch base with us until song #3. Smart! Less chat allows for more songs to be performed.

Speaking of smart, I’ve followed Ms. Draper’s work for years and she always has a well-researched, a beautifully delivered and a very smart script. Directed by Kimberly Vaughn, this show had a nice ebb and flow to it that made it fly by time-wise all while delivery 22 tunes in one hour!

Ms. Draper also always has a song or 2 that I wish I had thought of! She has great taste in music! She sings in flawless French and somehow communicates the meaning of words we may not understand with her sincere delivery. The most moving moment of the show was her dedication to her brother on “Que C’est Triste Venise” (Charles Aznavour/Francoise Dorin). She also showed impressive musicality on the very difficult jazz standard, “Cloudburst” (Jimmie Harris/Jon Hendricks/Leroy Kirkland). They slowed it down just a tad while still keeping an exciting fast tempo which allowed all of us to take in the fantastic word-smithing of this tune.

Speaking of music, her band was beyond excellent. Great arrangements and duet vocals from her long-time Musical Director, Gregory Toroian with amazing work by sidemen: Ritt Henn on Bass and Ukulele and Robbyn Tongue on Woodwinds.

Photo Credit: Adrian Montanez

Team REPEAL THE BLUES! Director Kimberly Vaughn, Music Director Gregory Toroian, Ritt Henn (on Bass & Uke), Jackie Draper, Milo Saidl (guest dancer), Robbyn Tongue (woodwinds).

As a ballroom dancer who does dance competitions, in this show, Ms. Draper delighted us to her impressive tap skills with partner, Milo Saidl. Using their feet as additional percussion on the happy rain medley, “I Got Lucky in the Rain” (Jimmy McHugh/Harold Adamson) into “That’s What a Rainy Day is For” (Vic Mizzy/Mann Curtis) and then later on “Laura” (David Raksin). Charming!

Photo Credit: Adrian Montanez

 

Here is where I would offer a few constructive comments. A few times in the show there occurred what I call “dead stage” moments…when there is nothing being said or a sip of water is being taken or, in this show, where the dance partner is coming up or leaving the stage. These are easy fixes. I think the band has to be ready to go immediately after the cue line is delivered and a few times, there was a bit of a lull where Jackie seemed to be ready but had to look over at the MD to start. Sipping water is sipping water but maybe we do it while an intro is being played so there just isn’t dead silence on the stage.

The dance partner thing is unique to Ms. Draper’s performances, so it is what it is. I would offer this though, if it is not a ballroom dance where a partner is absolutely needed, like in this case it was two tap numbers, that maybe Ms. Draper consider just breaking into dance by herself on stage. Partner Milo Saidl is fantastic! This comment has nothing to do with him. It’s simply that Ms. Draper is a good enough dancer in tap on her own to pull this off thus allowing for the show to continue with less preparation moments.

The other thing I would challenge Ms. Draper to do is to explore other parts of her voice. She is always “in the pocket” of her tunes musically, on timing and phrasing and delivers waltzes, Latin feel tunes, double time feel tunes all impeccably, probably because she’s a dancer with great sense of time, but what I would like to hear her develop even more diversity in the colors and tones of her instrument.

She will be bringing this show back in the Fall. Cabaret Hotspot! will keep you posted!