We spent an entertaining hour at Pangea on Saturday in a room full of Melody Jane fans, to see and hear the second iteration of her Violet Hour series. I’ve known Melody Jane in a few contexts now: initially as the fetching ingenue in our production of I’ll Say She Is, as well as her burlesque career, her performances in shows like OneofUs’s Jack and the Beanstalk panto and my holiday show Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. And she’s also quite a serious blogger and performance artist. She reinvents herself all the time — if you know her no doubt you’ve noticed she’s amped up the glamour lately.
At the Pangea show, the Marilyn echoes were palpable (particularly when she sang “Happy Birthday” to a friend in the audience.) She proclaimed the contradictions that make her interesting by singing an anthem about being “Old Fashioned” directly after shedding a large, stuffed vagina accessory she was wearing around her neck. And while she says she has left burlesque behind, she did treat us to a Gypsy-esque glove strip.
With the terrific musical direction and accompaniment of Hila Kulik, Melody Jane regaled the crowd with well-known standards, like “I Wanna Be Loved by You”, “Blue Skies” (performed twice, once with Ella Fitzgerald style scatting), and “Moon River”. She got the audience to sing along on “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”, from Walt Disney’s Cinderella. She also generously gave the stage over to guest artist Sarah Ittoop for a couple of numbers.
Melody Jane’s natural vibrato and comic soprano flights are highlights of what make her unique, and I’d love to see more of that kind of thing in her set. There’s a tradition of such-like back over a century (Think of that moment when Madeline Kahn sings, “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life” in Young Frankenstein). I don’t know of anyone doing anything as old school as that in the cabaret scene at the moment. I don’t know if anyone besides me wants it, but I do, because it’s funny, and it would build on Melody Jane’s natural assets. Just a thought! Another special treat in the show was an obscure Cole Porter song from his 1933 show Nymph Errant.
All in all, a delightful night on the town! You should catch Melody Jane’s next show!