Cabaret Legend Francis Faye Is Brought To The Footlights Again By Terese Genecco

by "Buzzin" Lee Hartgrave on July 22, 2005

GO, GO, GO, GO TERESE GENECCO SINGS FROM THE PIANO. THIS WAS THE TYPICAL OPENING THAT FAYE USED IN HER CABARET SHOWS FOR YEARS IN THE LITTLE BASEMENT JAZZ CLUBS TO BIG NITECLUBS LIKE SAN FRANCISCO’S ‘MOCAMBO’ ON POLK STREET IN SAN FRANCISCO IN THE 80’S. It was her last stage performance after many years of being in the spotlight – the spotlights finally left here. She never left us – and this tribute to Francis Faye at the New Conservatory is FAYE-TASTIC!

For those of you that don’t remember her music, or you were too young to have seen her in one the clubs – you might still remember her in the movie “Pretty Baby” as the Vodka laced Madam who found a job for Brooke Shields who was about sixteen at the time.

From Go,Go,Go,Go, a song that made celebs out of some of the audience for the evening. Faye used to gather the names from waiters and the doormen of people who were in the audience. Some would be famous – others would just be ordinary people. But, she had a way of making everyone seem special by linking his or her name next to a famous name. It is the same trick that Herb Caen used in his column. Put a common persons name in the same column as a famous person and regular Joe would float on air all day long. Faye invented it! And she was a genius at Rhyming names. I.E. “Ricky going with Dicky”, Jane is going with Dane”, Sam is dating Pam” and “Johnny Ray is Gay, Gay, Gay Gay.”

Genecco captures some of Fayes fabulous persona. There is no mistaking that Genecco has an astonishing voice and when she sings the songs associated with Faye she is utterly delightful and amazing.

Having said that – Genecco has attempted some things that did not work well in the show. For instance: Faye did do some joking with the Band and the Piano player. It was funny for two reasons. Faye was an older woman, who was not that attractive. So, when she jokes about a Sax player trying to make her – it was truly hilarious. When Genecco does the same thing it is only mildly funny – and some of her comments to the band and the piano player seem almost mean spirted. The other reason that this kind of act worked for Faye was that Faye was great at comic timing. Genecco has not accomplished that yet. She probably will in time. My advice would be to cut down on the back and forth stuff with the band. I would also like to see more about Faye brought out. Most of the people who will see this show will know absolutely nothing about her. Maybe a flash on the wall once in a while of the real deal would help and a little explanation of where she was and who she was. Sure, Genecco does a little background on her, but not enough for this to be a “book” show that they probably would like to take to off-broadway. It has all the elements – it just needs to be filled in.

However there is much to like is the show as far as it goes. “The Man I Love” is thrilling. And I could listen to the great rendition of “I Loves Ya Porgy.” The most touching moment of the evening was when she sang “Drunk With Love”, (Fletcher). He was a gay man who lost all his money and lived a wretched life in poverty. Faye sang his song at almost every performance. And who wouldn’t – it is absolutely astonishing. Genecco’s version is spectacular.

Act one is the best. Act two bogs down, especially when Genecco comes back for an encore. The two songs that she sang really put a damper on the show. She would be better off leaving on a high note with her Gotta Go Now, Gotta Go Now.Gotta Go Now. As Frank Sinatra told me once. You got to leave them wanting more kid.” And so he did. Getting back to the encore songs. The arrangements were dreary. They seemed to have nothing to do with Frances Faye – but more about Genecco. Lets keep the Tribute on Target. Tighten up the show and keep it moving, and it will be a hit.

Mark Gagne, the director made it a lively adventure for the most part. There were touches of brilliance – but they didn’t carry over to act two. The lighting design by John Kelly was truly amazing and the set design was the best thing that I have seen in decades. Bruce Walters designed a true nightclub experience. They should leave the set there and never take it down. A movie set couldn’t have been better. You have to see it to believe it! Ted Crimy’s sound design was perfect. Heard every word and every note.

THE SHOW COULD NOT EXIST WITHOUT GENECCO’S ‘LITTLE BIG BAND’. They are Sam Devine – Bass, Jacob Lawlor – Latin Percussion, Barry Lloyd – Piano, Fil Lorenz – Woodwinds and Randy Odel – Drums. They were playful, brazen and wonderfully offbeat.


Filed under: Archive