Youth, energy and talent are beginning to turn up in surprising quantities in the rapidly burgeoning musical cabaret movement.
Wednesday night, the Cinegrill followed up new star Michael Feinstein's smash three-week booking with the introduction of an equally gifted and far more innovative trio of performers named Montgomery, Plant and Stritch.
Starting from a base of well-crafted and beautifully performed vocal harmony, the trio--singers Sharon Montgomery and Rebecca Plant and pianist/arranger/singer Billy Stritch--proceeded on to include everything from Patsy Cline and Patti Page parodies to Jon Hendricks-styled scat singing.
The velvety-voiced Montgomery was particularly effective on fellow-Texan Amanda McBroom's "Ship in a Bottle." Plant--tall and slender, looking like an elegant escapee from the pages of Harper's Bazaar--brought new meaning to the torch-singing style with a passionate interpretation of Hoagy Carmichael's "Skylark."
Stritch's piano served admirably as both orchestra and rhythm section, but his accompaniment obligations interfered not a bit with his strong vocal harmony lines and occasional solo numbers (especially on "No Moon at All").
If Montgomery, Plant and Stritch have a problem, it's their tendency to go with too many upbeat, bright and cheery numbers. But their repertoire is so large and varied that a bit more care in song choices could easily produce the broader emotional range that the act needs.
Wednesday night's first-set closer, for example--a very dramatic song by Stritch and lyricist Sandy Knox titled "Does He Love You Like He's Been Loving Me"--showcased Montgomery and Plant in a theatrical set piece that was a stark and welcome contrast to the light-hearted bantering which had preceded it.
But this is a minor complaint. Montgomery, Plant and Stritch have the look, the sound and the quality of an act that's destined for bigger things. They'll be at the Cinegrill through Dec. 20.