Theater Review: Jill Kargman at the Café Carlyle
In the depths of winter the warm, elegant and intimate setting of the Café Carlyle in New York is particularly inviting. The Café is launching its winter season on a bright note with celebrated actress, singer and writer Jill Kargman who is making her debut at the prestigious venue. Kargman is probably most widely known as the creator, producer, writer and star of the TV series Odd Mom Out playing on Bravo.
Because the space at the Carlyle is so small, it would be difficult for a performer to conceal if they are nervous or uneasy. On her opening night last Tuesday Kargman walked on to the stage with great elan and a very warm smile and seemed completely at home, as if she were greeting friends. She recounted how she grew up in New York only a few blocks away from the Carlyle and jokingly said that she could remember the era when New Yorkers used to put “No radio” signs in their cars. She is a convinced urbanite, stating at one point that “I’d rather be in a fifth floor walkup than a Round Hill Road mansion.”
Although Kargman is apparently a confirmed city dweller, her take on urban life often has a satirical edge, as anyone familiar with her television show or writings could attest. During the show that sense of satire spilled out into other fields, including a description of a foreign make-up artist, au pairs from her youth and trips to Disney World with her kids.
During the performance she displayed a lovely singing voice and was accompanied on piano by Marco Paguia. The song list for the evening was relatively short consisting of eight numbers, including Alice Cooper’s “Poison” and Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” (who said the Carlyle was staid?). Part of the reason the song list is somewhat shorter than the usual cabaret set is because it affords Ms. Kargman more time to engage in her comedic patter. She is a very gifted raconteur. At times the humor verges into the bawdy and at several points of the evening I was reminded of the comedy of the late Joan Rivers.
In addition to her appearing on Odd Mom Out, Kargman is also a best selling author. The TV show is based on her novel Momzillas, and a collection of her comedic essays entitled Sprinkle Glitter On My Grave was released last September.
Upcoming engagements at the Carlyle include vocalist and noted fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi who will be performing January 31 to February 11. He is followed by John Lloyd Young who will be appearing February 14 to 25. Young won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Frankie Valli in the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys and also reprised the role in the film adaptation directed by Clint Eastwood.
And Woody Allen performs at the Carlyle every Monday evening through June 19.
Jill Kargman will be performing at the Café through January 28. Seeing Ms. Kargman would be an effective way for those seeking to enliven a cold January evening. The engagement is sold out, although seats are still availalble at the bar on a first come, first served basis.
The Café Carlyle is located at 35 East 76th St. in Manhattan.
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