While she has never stopped singing, this new show, “Steppin’ Out” marks Nicci Nicholas’ Cabaret come back! Proudly celebrating her 70th year with the gift of a show to herself, Nicci has never been in better voice. Her joy on stage was completely infectious! I have also never seen her so comfortable on stage or looking more glamorous! BRAVA Nicci and Welcome Back!
Her program was 14 American Songbook Standards each of which was delivered with the knowing only a woman of a certain age and a powerful voice can deliver. I was pleasantly surprised at her restraint in not using her impressive vocal ability in every tune. Many do. People just don’t get that a good voice is great, but a show of different feels, hues and emotions is so much more interesting than 14 tunes belted in your face. She knew when to keep it pure and quiet and when to let the beast out!
The show was beautifully crafted by Director, Lennie Watts who always finds a way to direct someone and let them shine to their best ability. Special “props” go to the ever-wonderful Musical Director, Ian Herman. I told Ian that I loved their pairing. I could tell Nicci not only loved working with Ian but that he was happy to help her shine.
While some of the tunes she presented are done a lot, all the songs were great! I went nuts for her rendition of “Sophisticated Swing” (Parish/Hudson) and she absolutely killed on “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” (Gorney/Harburg). “Fascinating Rhythm” (The Gershwin’s) was another highlight but her performance of “Losing My Mind” (Sondheim) had the audience screaming! I must admit though, that I didn’t get the boa. Yes, it’s a torch song but her emotional delivery of it (for me) was of a gal waking up to a new reality and would we wear a boa for that? Trust that you’re enough, you are…ditch the boa or wear it for “Ten Cents A Dance”!
Sometimes her patter was a little stilted, but it still felt like I was being spoken to and not like it was scripted. Getting the show more in her bones will help this flow better. The only other minor constructive comment I’ll make is that when she sings a ballad, she picks a spot to focus on and “sees” who she’s singing to but it’s the same spot and it’s intense in how intensely she keeps that stare in place for all the ballads. It’s OK to do a ballad to someone specific and relate to us as the audience in a kind of “I know that you know what I mean” kind of way…just an opinion.
There is nothing I love more than seeing a singer “come back” to stage stronger and happier and filled with all the joy that singing is supposed to bring to us all. Good job Nicci and let Cabaret Hotspot! know when you are bringing it back.