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Cabaret Review : Innovative Vocal Trio Performs At Cinegrill

December 12, 1986|DON HECKMAN

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.

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