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Issue 545 : March 9-15, 2006

Top live show
JANE WHITE
Feinstein’s at the Regency; Mon 13

When Jane White plants her feet on a stage and lets fly with her Shakespearean elocution, grand gestures and amusingly witchy hauteur, you know you’re in a regal presence. She proved it early on when she set off thunderbolts as the evil Queen Aggravain, Carol Burnett’s nemesis, in
Once upon a Mattress, a musical fable that opened on Broadway in 1959. White’s performances, not to mention her family history (she’s the daughter of Walter White, who cofounded chapters of the NAACP), marked the fair-skinned singer-actor as a rather high-flown talent. Her later roles have upheld that persona; she’s acted in lots of classical drama and, in 2001, portrayed Solange LaFitte, a showy Parisian headliner, in the Broadway revival of Follies. White has even played nonsinging roles at the Met.

In her rare one-woman shows, White can truly let her hair down. Bobby Short, who adored her, helped arrange a Town Hall concert in 1977; three years later she opened Off Broadway in
Jane White, Who? Now, more than two decades after her last cabaret appearance, she’ll be performing a one-off at Feinstein’s. Wicked humor and tragedy will fill the night air as White plumbs the words of Yip Harburg, Porter, Sondheim, Berlin, and Marshall Barer, who co-wrote Mattress. Don’t let the venue scare you off; for most of its current Monday series, including this show, Feinstein’s has lowered its exorbitant pricing to $25 and a two-drink minimum. For an hour of White’s sorcery, that’s a bargain.—James Gavin