How many times have we heard that the eyes are the “window to the soul”? One thing is indisputably for sure: The eyes have inspired many, many unforgettable songs throughout our decades of musical history. Singer and actor Leslee Warren knows more than a thing or two about both eyes and music. Her debut cabaret show Me, Myself, & Eye: Songs From A Nearsighted Girl is now enjoying a revival at the New York City cabaret hotspot Pangea. Warren has lovingly chosen a selection of both crowd-pleasing standards (Someone to Watch Over Me, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man) and underappreciated musical gems (If He Really Knew Me, from They’re Playing Our Song) for a one-woman show that’s both inspiring and triumphantly entertaining. The lovely performer opened the night with her bubbly, playful, and oh-so-delightful version of Them There Eyes, which was appropriate given that the singer’s two main influences were “music and vision”.
In addition to her vocal talents, Warren is also a wondrous storyteller: The inspiration behind this show is the singer’s
nearsightedness extreme nearsightedness since childhood. Early on in Me, Myself, & Eye, Warren pulls out a pair of comically thick-lensed glasses. After a mix of gasps and laughs from the audience, she revealed that they were actually a pair of novelty glasses… before pulling out her REAL spectacles, which were not much less thick than the novelty pair. She shared that she got her first pair of glasses at age three, which allowed her to REALLY see her mother for the first time… and also gave the singer a fantastic reason to give the audience The Way You Look Tonight. With artfully minimal musical adornment from her three-man band, the song was a fine display of Warren’s voice. When she sings the famous lyric “With each word your tenderness grows, Tearin’ my fear a-PART…!”, the audience got to hear how impeccably she is able to hold those challenging notes. She shows her impressive range with the feverishly romantic bossa nova/jazz standard Wave. That same feverish romanticism and, shall we say… “tropical” vibe is also used for the oft-redone Watch What Happens.
Later on, a pivotal moment in Warren’s life came with her first pair of contact lenses, leading to her sassy, sultry, and street-smart version of one of my personal favorites: I Can See Clearly Now. The same way this singer reinterprets and reinvents this classic, she does the same later on in the show with Hey, Look Me Over, adding more than a touch of class and lots of verve to a song that’s usually performed strictly for laughs. In a show of many, many highlights, a true standout was Warren’s version of Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart), a song first made famous by The Stylistics in 1971. Her synergy with her musicians was at its apex at that moment. Let’s just say that it was impossible to describe my delight while hearing this one. Another transcendent moment came with The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, which was yet another supreme display of Ms. Warren’s voice and the perfect musical adornment by her band.
As mentioned before, Leslee Warren is a wonderful storyteller, and the audience indeed loved hearing about her journey to success as a performer in New York City (Hint: Auditions, auditions, auditions…!) as well as dealing with such challenges as being viewed as “ethnically ambiguous” by those darn casting people. It’s clear that her hard work paid off. Me, Myself, & Eye showcases the artist’s “triple threat: (1) a superb choice of songs, (2) a striking stage presence, and… (3) bona fide talent! When she performed I’ll Be Seeing You at the close of the show, it was clearly a love song to the audience at Pangea that Saturday night. And yes, there was an encore. I won’t give it away, except to say that I like Warren’s bold, brassy, and playful new take better than the sugary original– starlight in your eyes of blue and all. Yes, I said it!
Leslee Warren’s Me, Myself & Eye: Songs From A Nearsighted Girl continues on Sunday, May 15th at 1 PM at Pangea, 178 2nd Ave, NYC. Reservations can be made at Pangea Restaurant and Bar :: Blog Archive (pangeanyc.com). The show features David Silliman on drums, Skip Ward on bass, and Gregory Torosian on piano. Torosian is also Musical Director.