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Lena Hall Performs at the Café Carlyle

by Photo of Paul Hansen

The multi-talented singer and actress ends the Cafe’s spring season on a high note.

Lena Hall Performs at the Café Carlyle

The spring season at the Café Carlyle is ending on a high note with the appearance of the very talented singer and actress Lena Hall. The title of the show is "Lena Hall: Oh! You Pretty Things." The performance centers on music which has been particularly meaningful to the singer in navigating various romantic relationships in her life.

The evening displays Hall's comfort and mastery of a variety of musical styles all the way from Broadway to punk rock. Speaking of Broadway, Lena was the original Nicola in Cyndi Lauper's Kinky Boots. She also won a Best Featured Actress Tony in 2014 for her performance in a revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch in which she appeared opposite Neil Patrick Harris. Another indication of Hall's eclectic musical talent is the fact that she is the lead singer for the rock group The Deafening.

I knew within two or three minutes of the beginning of the show that Lena has a personality which is impossible not to like. She has a lovely buoyancy and natural vivaciousness which is infectious.

The evening is something of an open hearted odyssey describing her relationships with men and the subsequent break-ups. One boyfriend to whom she was particularly devoted was a Californian who couldn't adapt to New York. In a particularly funny episode she describes a relationship with another boyfriend which ended because her devotion to Billy Joel's music was not as great as his. On a road trip with the Joel fan she tried to sing the lyrics to "We Didn't Start the Fire" and her lack of complete knowledge of the icon's work was unfortunately exposed.

She became engaged to her next boyfriend after dating him for two weeks. (Hall's re-enactment of her mother's reaction to finding out about the engagement is priceless). Wedding plans were made and invitations were sent out but the wedding was ultimately canceled.   However, the wedding dress (designed and purchased a number of years ago) was saved and in a slight nod to Ms. Havisham, she wears the wedding gown briefly towards the end of the performance.  (Actually, the wedding dress was transformed into something of a joyous souvenir. She wore it at her last performance of Hedwig and then had cast members sign it.) 

Despite the description of all of the break-ups, the evening has a light-hearted feel. Hall is open about the heartache which the collapsed relationships caused her. But she also has a tremendous sense of humor and perspective, as if all of the pain and tumult is an inevitable part of life's unpredictable carnival which has to be experienced and sailed past.

And then there is the music to enjoy - including everything from songs by The Beatles, Elton John, David Bowie, Aerosmith, and the aforementioned Billy Joel.  Lena even successfully sang a loud punk rock selection in the relatively confined space of the Café.  I had the impression that Hall is able to channel and communicate the joy in all types of music, which I suppose is simply another way of saying that she is multi-talented.  She is accompanied by a lively four piece band.   

The Café Carlyle will soon be going dark for the summer.  Lena is appearing at the Café through June 25. Woody Allen and the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band are performing at the storied venue on June 20 and 27.

The Cafe Carlyle is located at 35 East 76 th St. in Manhattan. 

 


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