Feb 9, 2022
Lila Day’s debut cabaret performance entitled Getting Happy was indeed pleasurable and something to get happy about. Her theme of self-actualization ran throughout the evening. “I never had a man to make me happy” Day said, “It left a big hole that only I could fill.” This led into Get Happy (Koehler/Arlen) the show’s opening number.
The evening was a well-crafted blend of comic patter, storytelling and an impressive song list that ranged from Harold Arlen and Irving Berlin to George Michael, the Bee Gees and Gene Autry.
Day’s quest to step into her full-self began at an early age. As a second grader, she decided to write a novel, only to be told that second graders can’t write novels. This story ark was musically punctuated with Gonna Build A Mountain (Bricusse/Newley) and culminated in true Bette Davis style, with Day smoking a cigarette, singing I’m Always Chasing Rainbows (McCarthy, Carrol) and proclaiming that by the third grade she was all “washed up.” Charming and authentic, Day began a narrative story-telling that would carry her through a very successful evening.
As one would expect from a performer’s first show, Day is still discovering the right balance of volume and energy needed to project her voice in the room, while still remaining intimate. This is a tricky balance to be sure, but one has every faith that Day will master this in short order.
She introduced her next song One More Try (George Michael) as being “desperate and confused in a way that only George Michael could understand,” As this soulful anthem began, one may have wanted a little more voice but as Day artfully released her voice into the song’s climactic notes, she took her audience with her.
Day continued her tale of self-actualization, which included pursuing an advanced degree, running a marathon, meeting (and losing) guys and moving to NYC. “I was nothing but a self-deprecating mass of attachment” accordingly, as one dose when faced with these circumstances, she sang a sunshine medley: Put On a Happy Face (Strouse/Adams, I Got The Sun In the Morning (Berlin), Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone (Withers) and Walking on Sunshine (Rew), which Day executed with both shining resonance and ease.
All of Day’s natural skill and innate qualities came together in a very well put together show. Director Kristine Zbornik expertly guided this narrative of story and song, told with humor and sincerity, and Brian Holman at the piano played beautifully throughout the evening. Further charming her audience, she thanked her team to the tune of Danke Schoen, “speaking of pain- I want to thank my director (Zbornik) who heard about my every hangnail and made art!”
This was an excellent debut performance. Day has a natural stage presence and seemed fueled by the energy of being in a room with a very responsive audience who were clearly loving her performance. The last song of the evening, As Long As He Needs Me (Bart) closed with a big sustained note in true diva fashion, solidifying her arrival to NY Cabaret. Welcome Lila Day!