Uptown cabarets are generally the places for high-priced, reverent song stylings performed on various well-oiled standards.
Well, at the Cafe Carlyle until May 12, Emily Bergl is infusing that format with some freshness and originality, bringing a little bit of downtown uptown.
She’s utterly delightful.
Bergl–who’s a little Glynis Johns meets Anne Francis–was in the Pulitzer finalist Becky Shaw, she played tragic housewife Beth Young in Desperate Housewives, and she’s at home on a cabaret stage, where she enters in tuxedo tails, a white bowtie, and sparkle, looking like she fell off a gay wedding cake.
She does “It Had To Be You” from a sarcastic point of view.
She mixes “Telephone” (yes, the Gaga/Beyonce duet) with the Rufus Wainwright song about how “My phone’s on vibrate for you.”
Effortlessly changing into a taffeta gown, she sings “Someday My Prince Will Come,” then medleys it with songs by Lou Reed and Prince, creating a mix that’s both funny and touching.
And she inventively reworks “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” as if done by the cantankerous Elaine Stritch.
Quirks abound, and cute patter, like Bergl relating how on Gay Pride Day, her stoop became the setting for an impromptu volleyball game done by 17 lesbians–and she loved it.
(What she doesn’t care for are the packs of foodies traipsing up and down Bleecker Street all the time. But even they can’t break her stride.)
Her show, by the way, is called “NY I Love You,” and it’s a genuine valentine to the city that makes everyone who belongs here feel like they come from here, whether they do or not.
Some songs or moments might be at optimal level yet–I went to opening night–but it’s OK because when Bergl’s onstage, you feel like she’s doing what she wants to do, not what she’s supposed to do.
And that’s refreshing.
Photo: Michael Creagh