Don’t Tell Mama
April 14, 2019 3:30pm
Oh, the ‘80s. Anyone who came of age – and survived – that decade of glittery, self-indulgent excess deserves a pat on the back. Those who survived not only the decade but were able to overcome a drug and alcohol addiction deserve additional kudos as well. And when someone can take that drug and alcohol addiction and turn it into a thoroughly winning evening of cabaret entertainment, as Patrice McKinley did, they deserve a standing ovation.
Ordinary Miracles, McKinley’s raw, wry, and remarkably witty exploration of her descent into addiction and her successful fight back to sobriety in the mid-80s, was one of those experiences where one was in complete awe of a performer’s total willingness to expose the darkest moments of their life and make a compelling, graceful – and funny – work of art. Using a set list of songs both classic and contemporary, including One For The Road, (Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer); Pick Yourself Up (Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields); and Fire and Rain (James Taylor), as well as Rehab, (Amy Winehouse); Brave, (Sarah Bareilles and Jack Antonoff), McKinley’s strong, firm voice showed not a trace of the hell she put herself through, nor of the damage she did to herself.
She was particularly effective with a gut-wrenching Breathe (Anna Nalick), and a hilarious The Piano Has Been Drinking (Tom Waits.) Delivering her patter with a sharp, self-effacing charm, she was in total control of herself, her show (beautifully directed by Lina Koutrakos, with superb support from her musical director, Rick Jensen), and her audience.
By the time she came to the final song, Ordinary Miracles (Marvin Hamlisch, Alan and Marilyn Bergman) – the song with which she chose to title her show – McKinley was glowing with the sublime self-assurance of one who’s come through the worst and not only survived, but blossomed into her best self. Her glow was contagious, and Ordinary Miracles, the show, was one to love, cheer, and think about for a long time afterward. As is McKinley, the artist.