Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Cady Huffman has too much talent. Despite claiming to be an awful tap dancer, she's tapped in four different Broadway shows. (Though Tommy Tune apparently removed the taps from her shoes for her breakout role in The Will Rogers Follies.) But she can sing (mezzo and soprano), handle roles both comic and dramatic, was a ballerina as a child, and can charm the hell out of a cabaret audience. Friday the 13th proved a lucky day for the crowd that gathered in the intimate confines of Feinstein's at the Nikko to see Huffman's newest show, Tom Boy Showgirl.
From the moment she walked on stage, her million-watt smile lit up the room and presented a perfect cabaret show: songs you know, a few you don't, some delivered in different arrangements or styles than you're used to, and just the right amount of patter.
Huffman explained the title of the show as being an apt description of herself, especially as a child. "I was the girl who chased the boys, caught them, and then held them so the other girls could kiss them." A lot of people apparently think Huffman is a lesbian, in part, she explains, "because in show business, tall equals lesbian."
She began the show with a full-throated version of "Willamania" (from, appropriately, The Will Rogers Follies), interspersing the verses with the story of how she was called to Cy Coleman's office to prove she could belt. And belt she canand did, on several memorable occasions.
But it was her more tender choices that really made an impact. Her versions of "Maria" and the 1980s Berlin hit written for the film Top Gun "Take My Breath Away" suited her voice perfectly. For the latter number, Huffman told the story of the night she met Tom Cruise at the premiere of Top Gun and ended up partying all night with him and some of his entourage, ending the magical experience with an early morning ride on the back of his Ninja 1000 motorcycle. She also did a very funny lounge version of the Sir Mix-a-Lot hit, "Baby Got Back."
Tomboy or showgirl? Cady showed us both sides of her personalityand we loved them equally. Her run in San Francisco was only two nights, but if she's headed to your town, don't miss this delightful show.
Cady Huffman appeared at Feinstein at the Nikko on May 12 and 13, 2016. For information on upcoming events at Feinstein's Nikko, www.hotelnikkosf.com/feinsteins.aspx.