“IF YOU survive long enough, you’re going to be called a bitch,” said Bette Davis. Or Joan Crawford. Or somebody like that.
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BROOKE SHEILDS has survived a very long time. She was a highly controversial child star, a young leading lady movie star. She also became a TV star in “Suddenly Susan,” revealing a charming talent for broad comedy.
Now, Brooke’s career as a movie star didn’t quite lead to where Brooke’s mom, Teri Shields, thought it would. Brooke did not become the “next Elizabeth Taylor” — and perhaps that was all to the good. (As with Candice Bergen, it took television to truly unleash Brooke.)
Our girl has also acquitted herself more than ably on Broadway in “Grease,” Wonderful Town,” “Chicago” and “Cabaret.” There were several romances, two husbands, several children, post-partum depression and a feud with Tom Cruise. Through all this, nobody has ever called Brooke Shields a bitch.
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SO WITH this much survival experience I was surprised that I was so surprised when I learned Brooke would be making her cabaret debut at Feinstein’s at the Regency. Brooke Shields in cabaret — what will she do? She’d sing, of course, and tell a few stories. But somehow I didn’t quite get it. Until I saw Brooke — statuesque and dazzling — on a tiny stage, knocking the packed room back on its heels. Then, I got it.
I’ve seen a lot of cabaret in my time, but rarely have I seen so much infectious energy and freshness as exhibited by Brooke Shields. It is her freshness that is startling. For all her years in the business, there appears to be not a cynical bone in her body. Just as nothing came between Brooke and her Calvins, apparently nothing in life has come between Brooke and her good nature, her rather wacky sense of humor and eagerness to please an audience.
Brooke’s voice is not an exquisite instrument of many colors, but rather a bold, strong, sometimes raucous, sometimes tender Broadway-type instrument. It is colorful enough. She knows just how to sock out “One Fine Day” or “100 Easy Ways to Lose a Man” or “Sandra Dee” (from “Grease” —“look at me, I’m Sandra Dee” — remember?) And she’s awfully touching on “Your Smiling Face,” “Rien de Rien” “Takes My Breath Away,” and the immortal Lennon/McCartney ballad “In My Life.” That, in fact, is the title of her show (excellently directed by Mark Waldrop).
And yes, there are some biographical mentions — her childhood (she really had one, she insists convincingly), crushes (George Michael!), her mother (spoken of with love and respect), glances at marriage. “My husband refers to himself as ‘your current husband!’” she says with a big laugh. But there’s nothing too heavy going on. She is open, but discreet. That is a blessed relief in a world gone mad with immodest self-revelation.
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IN THE end, for all her expertise as a musical performer, her ability to tell a story through song, it is Brooke’s essence, her presence that really sells this show. She appears to be having a genuinely joyful time onstage, just being herself.
Toward the end of night, after a powerful version of “Maybe This Time,” somebody in the audience called out “Brava, diva!” Brooke gasped, chortled and turned to the excellent boys in her band: “You see, you see? I told you if I hung around long enough I’d become a diva!”
Not really. Not at all. Brooke Shields plays Feinstein’s until Saturday. This is real entertainment and mini-theater, performed by a real person. Go see it! And Brooke — come back soon.
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SPEAKING OF singing, how tiresome is all the hullabaloo over Christina Aguilera mangling a couple of words of the national anthem at the Super Bowl?
For heaven’s sake, most people don’t know any of the words to it. (And although I like Joan Rivers, I thought her jumping into the fray and calling Christina “fat” was inappropriate. The girl looks like a girl, broad where a broad should be broad, but she sure ain’t fat.)
My objection to Miss Aguilera’s rendition is her particular style of singing — every note has to have six notes within it, and an array of vocal ruffles and flourishes which are impressive technically, but rather cold.
Personally, I would have preferred to hear Brooke Shields sing the national anthem.
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PRIOR TO the Super Bowl, Fox News emperor Bill O’Reilly interviewed President Obama, mostly interrupting everything the president tried to answer. During the course of the interview, Bill asked the president “Why do so many people hate you?” The Left jumped all over this, saying O’Reilly would never have asked it of George W. Bush. Naturally, Bill produced a tape to counter that accusation.
Here’s what Bill said to W: “Why do some many people in the press hate you?”
Again, to Obama: “Why do so many people hate you?”
So, it’s kind of the same question. But not quite. I’m sure you all see the difference.