As Halloween approaches, ghosts and monsters and witches seem to be everywhere. But by far the most entertaining witch of all was Tracy Lynn Olivera, presenting her Halloween Spooktacular Cabaret at Signature Theatre tonight in Shirlington. Olivera, with her strong, versatile voice, combined with her howling wit and style, cast a spell over the audience and had them eating out of the palm of her hand.
Olivera, long a Washington favorite, has performed in a number of shows in the area, including Ford Theatre’s Hello Dolly and Freedom’s Song, and Signature Theatre’s Gypsy. She made her Broadway debut in the recent revival of Ragtime, and is well-known for her charisma and humor in her sold-out cabaret shows. Joining her tonight was Lenny Williams on piano (also the Music Director), Chris Biondo on bass, Raice McLeod on drums, and Gerry Kunkel on guitar; her good friend Robyn Badman joined her on stage for a few songs.
Opening the cabaret with the standards “Spooky” and “I’ve Put a Spell on You”, Olivera immediately won over the audience with her velvety voice and humorous, winking style. She has a gift for connecting with the audience and making even a larger venue feel very intimate—her humorous patter between songs feels more like she is talking to a friend than addressing an audience.
As the night continued, Olivera wound her way through the songs that mean “Halloween” to her, restricted by genre not at all. From a rendition of “The Headless Horseman” (in her best Bing Crosby impression—which was surprisingly credible!) to a throaty cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” to a jaunty “Come On-A My House” during which she passed out candy to select members of the crowd, she shared her enthusiasm and love for this crazy holiday.
She also did a funny, clever bit about the—generally unnoticed—creepiness of some pop songs and segued into a medley of “Every Breath You Take”, Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello,” “Nights on Broadway,” and the creepiest song of all “On the Street Where You Live.” Her funny expressions and intonations had the audience in stitches as she really emphasized just how spooky these songs are!
The night ended with a fantastically jazzy version of Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd, and a cover of “Thriller” (with Robyn Badman) that started out slow and ballad-y before speeding up and becoming more upbeat. The only thing missing was the dance!
Sadly, the Halloween Spooktacular Cabaret was only an hour long—much too short for this audience tonight! Between the parade of familiar songs rendered new by Olivera’s distinctive style and voice and her humor, the time passed in a blink.
Run—don’t walk, and definitely don’t zombie-shuffle—to Signature Theatre to catch Tracy Lynn Olivera’s Halloween Spooktacular Cabaret and celebrate Halloween in style!
Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.
Tracy Lynn Olivera: Halloween Spooktacular Cabaret plays through Saturday, October 31, 2015 at Signature Theatre – 4200 Campbell Avenue, in Arlington, VA.. For tickets, call (703) 820-9771, or purchase them online.