Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Leanne Borghesi returned to Feinstein's in the Hotel Nikko on August 5 and 6th to entertain a sold-out crowd of her enthusiastic fans. I have reviewed this extremely talent singer/entertainer in many musical productions here in the Bay Area. She is now bicoastal, with residences in New York and San Francisco, and has appeared in New York in such places as The Duplex and Don't Tell Mama. This first class singer is reminiscent of such legendary divas as Francis Faye and Ethel Merman with a little of Carol Burnett thrown in for good measure. She can belt out a tune with the best of the renowned singers. She describes herself as a "crazy good person."
Leanne Borghesi's new show is called Beautiful Dirty Sexy Me. This is the story of a 1950s housewife who is discontented with her life but finds her voice and learns by reading "Dominatrix Housewife On Fire" that she holds the power to go after whatever she wants. The performer conceived the plot along with Nathan Cann and New York director Nicolas Minas who directed the 70 minute gig.
The show was a fantastic theatrical cabaret production. It opened with a roll of thunder and this supreme artist dressed like a middle-aged housewife sang "It Might as Well Be Spring" from State Fair. She was looking out of a frame like a window with the sound of thunder in the background and then segued in a Disney character with treble in her voice to sing "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" from Cinderella. She had a puppet as a co-star in the form of a crow that appears in the "window."
She then sang the Tom Lehrer song "Smut" as she picked up the dominatrix book. The frame disappeared and she went to a mike like those used in 1930s radio shows to sing "Doin' It the Hard Way" from the movie Duffy's Tavern. Borghesi then belted out "I Can Cook, Too" from On the Town before a kitchen bar with food on the counter and a big piece of meat that she slowly sexually massaged. It was X-rated or maybe PG-13.
The artist sang with a wonderful sensual voice the jazz standard "I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl" and then went into "Making Love Alone." She became aggressive singing "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This" from Sweet Charity and then moved smoothly into "Eat Your Fucking Corn Flakes" to an unknown person. Finally, off came the housewife dress and there was a dominating woman wearing a black corset. She belted out "June Is Busting Out All Over" moving effortlessly into the Helen Reddy song "I Am Woman."
Leanne Borghesi went into the audience to find six people to come up on stage to sing Vonda Shepard's "The Pussycat Song." They each held up a card with an X-rated word on it with man holding up the card with the word "pussy" on it. Borghesi suddenly turned serious when singing "Fantasies Come True" from Avenue Q and "I Know Things Now" from Into the Woods. She ended her theatrical cabaret by softly singing "How Did We Come to This?"
For an encore the talented artist came into the audience with a dozen roses and sang "Everybody's Girl" from Steel Pier giving a single rose to various persons. She went back on stage to vibrantly sing "Everything's Coming Up Roses."
She was perfectly backed up by a trio with Michael Ferreri on piano, Amanda Wu on bass, and Roberta Drake on drums.
Leanne Borghesi is already looking at dates this fall in New York and taking this work to Chicago, Provincetown, and the UK. This is a work in progress and maybe from 75 minutes I would be trim some dialogue for a 65-minute piece.
For more information on Feinstein's at the Hotel Nikko, go to www.feinsteinsnikko.com