A Fine Romance: Karen Akers’ Beautiful Take on Rodgers and Hart

karenakers credit heather sullivan A Fine Romance: Karen Akers’ Beautiful Take on Rodgers and Hart The fall cabaret season continues without pause at the Algonquin’s august Oak Room, where Karen Akers is celebrating a beatifically modulated salute to the rich, harmonic melodies of Richard Rodgers and the witty, urbane, but often tortured lyrics of Lorenz Hart. Statuesque, courtly, with an understated elegance that reminds me of the late Portia Nelson, Karen generously includes the verses on exquisite works of art that give an older, wiser crowd what it wants in time-tested songs while allowing a younger audience to “access” an important part of the Great American Songbook and learn something. 

Wrapping her throaty alto pipes around handpicked classics, draped in a sleeveless hunter-green French silk charmeuse with a skip rope of pearls, she is the essence of class. And her songs match her refinement with moment-to-moment taste. What could be more musically epicurean than “I Didn’t Know What Time it Was,” melting into “My Romance”? You get a rooted feeling for Hart’s rueful aborted romantic heartbreak on “Glad to Be Unhappy” and “Can’t You Do a Friend a Favor?” But don’t dress up for depression. She accentuates the positive on “Lady Is a Tramp” and the naughty lyric line that got “A Lady Must Live” banned from the airwaves in 1931 (“With my John and my Max/ I can reach a climax/ That’s proof positive/ That a lady must live”). Thanks to the pulsating bass lines of Dick Sarpola and the clever arrangements by pianist Don Rebic, the show never runs out of surprises. “I Wish I Were in Love Again” is taken at a much slower, relaxed paced than you remember from the frantic violence of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, and she’s so warm, polished and soignée that I can even forgive her for my least favorite Rodgers-Hart song, the hackneyed old bore “My Funny Valentine.” When you can make that one sound relevant any other month besides February, you have earned your applause. Bathed in the glow of Karen Akers singing Rodgers and Hart, that applause does not diminish. Through Oct. 23.

rreed@observer.com

Article continues below
More from Politics
STAR OF DAVID OR 'PLAIN STAR'?   If you thought "CP Time" was impolitic, on July 2 Donald Trump posted a picture on Twitter of a Star of David on top of a pile of cash next to Hillary Clinton's face. You'd think after the aforementioned crime stats incident (or after engaging a user called "@WhiteGenocideTM," or blasting out a quote from Benito Mussolini, or...) Trump would have learned to wait a full 15 seconds before hitting the "Tweet" button. But not only was the gaffe itself bad, the attempts at damage control made the BP oil spill response look a virtuoso performance.  About two hours after the image went up on Trump's account, somebody took it down and replaced it with a similar picture that swapped the hexagram with a circle (bearing the same legend "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!"!). Believe it or not, it actually got worse from there. As reports arose that the first image had originated on a white supremacist message board, Trump insisted that the shape was a "sheriff's star," or "plain star," not a Star of David. And he continued to sulk about the coverage online and in public for days afterward, even when the media was clearly ready to move on. This refusal to just let some bad press go would haunt him later on.
Donald Trump More Or Less Says He’ll Keep On Tweeting as President