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NY Theater Reviews

Lynda Carter

TAKING ON SONGS, NOT VILLAINS

By Robert L. Daniels

No cartoon super hero( Wonder Woman), is Lynda Carter, making her New York cabaret debut at Feinstein's at Loew's Regency. But a flesh and blood singer who reveals a studied and engaging way with a song.

It was Halloween in Gotham and patrons visiting Feinstein's at Loew's Regency found themselves in the company of seventie's daredevil beauty, Wonder Woman. Newly transformed into a sophisticated chanteuse, Lynda Carter made her Manhattan debut with a program of well chosen jazz and theater songs. Now fifty-six, the former glam beauty queen and television action star revealed a studied and engaging way with a song.

A handsome presence in a white blouse and a broad belted floor length black skirt, Carter displayed a pleasantly flexible voice that boasted a richly firm lower register. Poised and well focused on a varied repertoire, the diva recalled rural roots, a caring mom and made but one brief reference to her role as an action hero, as her band whipped into the Wonder Woman theme.

Braced by a fondness for old films. Carter recalled that Rita Hayworth was only remembered for one film, and that being the 1946 Gilda. Perhaps, but even in that case her singing voice was dubbed by Anita Ellis. Carter, who portrayed Hayworth in a 1983 bio-pic, revived the thriller's big musical moment with Put the Blame on Mame, and her torrid hip-shaking tribute to the screen goddess defined the legacy of tinsel town's golden age.

From Hollywood to Phoenix, where she grew up, Carter crooned what her mother labeled torch country with Crazy. She captured the lumbering road house flavor of the Willie Nelson song with a down home heartbeat.

The next surprise came in the form of a jazz singer. From Billie Holiday's plaintive God Bless the Child to weathered classics like Cry Me a River, Blues in the Night and Fever, Carter revealed a distinct feel for interpretive jazz vocalizing. The real surprise came with Cloudburst, a dazzling jazz tongue twister made famous by Jon Hendricks, Dave Lambert and Annie Ross. Carter met the challenge head-on and proved she could swing with the best of them.

Firmly assisted by the polished support of her pianist and musical director, Sam Kriger and a tightly balanced quartet, Carter found herself comfortably nestled in the ballads of Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern. George Gershwin and Cole Porter. With the thrust, pluck and fortitude of Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter conquered the big apple with appealing poise, dignity and aplomb.