(This article originally appeared in Huffington Post on 2/2/17.)
How could you not love a singer who opens her show with a sassy song called What The F**k? (from the Broadway show If/Then) and then proceeds to give the audience a transcendentally romantic rendition of the Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields classic The Way You Look Tonight? Welcome to an intimate evening with New York City songstress Teresa Fischer. One of the hardest-working women in Manhattan’s cabaret scene, Fischer has established a unique reputation as a cheeky singer with a heavenly voice. This songstress with a self-proclaimed “penchant for saucy songs” may have la voix of an angel, but this is the kind of angel you’d love to hang out with at an underground nightclub in Heaven. Fischer may be in the ruling class of New York’s cabaret society, but here’s a lady who puts the “racy” in “aristocracy“.
That’s just the beginning of Fischer’s new one-woman show, What’s Next?, an eclectic mix of musical gems with a focus on “exploring the places and events we revisit or imagine when figuring out… what’s next”. In making that musical road trip, she unearths some tunes from 1936 to 2015 which are just aching to be heard again, and honors some truly unsung heroes of the songwriting world (Can you say Zoe Lewis?), both male and female. Fischer’s delivery of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s poignant Chasing What’s Already Gone, Andrew Lippa’s upbeat Be The Hero (from Broadway’s Big Fish), and Craig Carnelia’s grand What You’d Call a Dream (from off-Broadway’s Diamonds) are are no less than flawless. The tempo turns frenetic with Holly Williams’ Railroads, a song which may evoke the intense spirit of Cher’s Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves. But who could prepare the audience for Fischer’s truly whacky anthem to, ahem… the sex lives of penguins, called Los Pinguinos? You really have to hear it to believe it. The crowd was laughing out loud with that campy tune, but there was not one dry eye in New York City’s Don’t Tell Mama after Teresa’s heart-tugging rendition of Don Henry’s/Craig Morris’ The Man Upstairs. Fear not, folks: The mood turned from heart-tugging to gut-busting again with Fischer’s bluesy serving up of Zoe Lewis’ deliciously decadent Breakfast Blues (“You give me ‘hard eggs’ in the morning, ‘Cheese omelet’ you go; You just ‘hot buttered grits’ your teeth and bear it girl, I ‘doughnut’ love you no more…”)
Cabaret veteran Paul Chamlin is the musical director of What’s Next?, and he does double duty as pianist. He’s more than able to keep up with the shifting tempos of Fischer’s unique playlist, and the rapport between the chanteuse and her “one man band” is priceless. Of course, no performer would end a show without something bring to the house down— and Fischer does just that courtesy of some astonishing high notes in her closing number, It’s Not Too Late from Broadway’s Romance/Romance. (We’ll keep her self-proclaimed “totally prepared encore number” a secret!)
Whether she’s playing it tough or sweet, making us laugh or cry, or singing nostalgically about the endangered species known as the Rotary Phone, Teresa Fischer is always Teresa Fischer. This is a performer who has truly created her own identity… as well as a performer who will always keep her fans and followers asking “What’s Next?”
Teresa Fischer’s What’s Next?, with musical direction by Paul Chamlin and special musical arrangements by Andrew David Sotomayor, will have an encore performance on Thursday, February 16th at Don’t Tell Mama, 343 W 46th St, New York City. Visit www.DontTellMamaNYC.com for more information.