Saturday, May 16, 2009

CABARET review - Theresa Anne Swain

The annual contest LA's Next Great Stage Star winner for 2009 was Theresa Anne Swain, who made her cabaret debut Saturday, May 16 at Sterling's Upstairs @ Vitello's. Titling her show Confessions of a Stalk -a-holic, Miss Swain portrayed a character named Elizabeth, who set about to deliciously describe her 30-year problem with men. Initial attraction, the relentless pursuit, the thrill of the attainment and then the unrelenting depression that accompanied the disintegration of each and every relationship. Elizabeth is phrenetic, somewhat overbearing and resolute to the max, which provides Swain with some great moments of comedy. We've all had a friend of this sort who overdoes it, but is so sincere that we cannot help but love her. Her guaranteed off-center attitude makes us laugh, so we delight in her zaniness. Swain's Elizabeth allows her to showcase herself as a young character actress, just right for the nosy next-door neighbor in a TV sitcom or the jilted other woman in a musical comedy for the stage such as Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls.
She utilized her enormous singing talent to great advantage in selecting songs that ideally fit the ups and downs of her story. Beginning with the pursuit of her man was the ever popular "I Will Follow Him". Randy Newman's "Feels Like Home" followed, telling of the initial thrill of a new relationship. Jason Robert Brown's wonderfully poignant "Still Hurting" told of the breakup; Zina Goldrich's very humorous "The Last Song" showed her unwillingness to let go, and Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond's hilarious "Oh Henry Bar" depicted depression/the intake of chocolate after the relationship dissolved. Stephen Sondheim's "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" was used succinctly to answer "What does it take to get a man to call back?" There was also a beautiful duet with real-life boyfriend Blake Pullen who portrayed Elizabeth's latest conquest Albert in "You Are My Home" by Frank Wildhorn and Nan Knighton. "Stalker" an original tune by Scott Burkell and Paul Loesel ended the set and brought it full circle as Elizabeth concluded her on-target observations on the unpredictability of love.
It will perhaps take time for Theresa Anne Swain to present herself as is, without hiding behind a character. Yet, something tells me that she and Elizabeth are very much alike. They both have an infectious sense of humor and know how to use it wisely.
Swain is off to Tokyo Disneyland in a few months to star in The Diamond Horseshoe Revue to fulfill a Disney contract that is part of her contest win. In the meantime, the sky's the limit for this gifted actress/comedienne/singer, who is most assuredly on a winning streak!


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