Brenda Williams with a sore throat is still a combination of Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and Yogi Berra, hitting, fielding, catching with grace and humor. Sunday, Williams gave a versatile performance before enthusiastic patrons in the intimate setting of Indianapolis' newest version of traditional cabaret (sans smoky air), the Connoisseur Room. Attendees were seated at tables on two levels, close yet not crowded.
With Loesje Chandler at the piano and Frank Smith on bass, Williams opened with a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, flirting through the now-famous storytelling moves for "A Tisket, A Tasket." "I think I've got a handle on this cabaret thing," winked Williams, and the audience responded, staying involved throughout. Williams delightfully scatted through the bridge for "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," rendered a wistful "Our Love is Here to Stay" and broke us up with a 1-2-3 breezy sweep of "Bill Bailey," "Sara Lee" and "Don Juan" followed by sit-up-and-listen amazing arrangements of Gershwin, Porter and Berlin. The first act closed with a luscious "Stormy Weather."
Williams traded easy riffs with Chandler and Smith throughout a second act punctuated by a rousing "I'm a Woman" and a get-in-with-me "Rollin' on the River." A consummate Broadway musical performer, Williams simultaneously stops the show and keeps it moving with every nuance of character and story development. Log on to www.brendawilliams.net and www.thecabaret.org.