Reviewer: Maryam Philpott
Most cabaret shows essential boil down to love – romantic love, self-love, love of musical theatre – and the format barely changes, a few songs, some anecdotes and a loose theme to string it all together. Off-Broadway star Linda Glick makes her Zedel debut with Teach Me Tonight a very traditional cabaret show, with plenty of sentimental love songs and hopeful messages that showcase her multilingual musical talents.
Somehow in a little under 85 minutes, Glick manages to perform 21 individual songs in three languages, English, Spanish and French, drawing on her previous experience as a teacher. It’s a part of her life that she’s clearly very proud of, but one that revealed the difficulty facing a lot of disadvantaged young people in America. Her opening number Teach Me Tonight, written by Gene de Paul and Sammy Cahn, showcases her soft and smoky vocals that sit somewhere between Barbara Streisand and Eartha Kitt, she recounts all the stars who were once teachers including Sting, Mr. T and Hugh Jackman.
In the first section of the show, it seems that teaching will be the theme as Glick discusses methods for capturing the attention of her pupils using wigs and funny clothes, before launching into an expressively performed and dramatic version of Spanish tune Adoro. When Glick sings in other languages, she carefully adopts the musical style and delivery of native singers and is one of the highlights of this show. Later a French version of Pigallecelebrating the vibrancy of the area around Montmartre is equally enjoyable, capturing the particular vibrato of French vocalists and transporting the audience to Paris.
Clearly delighted to be in London and an engaging host, Glick’s show also absorbs a range of influences, picking songs from country music, South Pacific, Elton John and her own stage experiences. It’s varied but it is also rather relentless as the original theme gives way to an increasingly loose collective, hopping from anecdotes about Billy Joel’s James named after his guitarist, to a co-written Clint Eastwood number (Why Should I Care) to Elton John sung in both French and English.
Songs are included presumably because Glick likes to sing them rather than to convey a particular message or story. While for the most part enjoyable, as songs 10 to 21 are performed almost entirely back to back, the show becomes a more wayward and, at times, the quality of the performance slips. Glick is clearly more comfortable with a mid-range vocal and where a tune becomes too high she struggles to reach the note and comfortably return to the lower scale.
Structurally, it’s a tad old-fashioned perhaps with a preference for classic songs sung in a 70s/80s cabaret style that often includes meaningful advice spoken over a mid-point instrumental. Linda Glick: Teach Me Tonight will be a boon to fans who want to hear as much of her as possible, and aside from an entirely random a story about fruit bags that leads into a lovely version of Streets of London, there’s plenty of material to appreciate.
Runs Until 5 September 2018 | Image: Contributed