Emily Bergl continues “Kidding on the Square” at Algonquin’s historic Oak Room
By: Sandi Durell
After an initial debut in 2010 at the Metropolitan Room, Emily Bergl brings her whimsical, dramatic-comedic self to the Algonquin’s historic Oak Room.
The show has the same content of material and this television actress, best known for her role as the tragic housewife Beth Young on Desperate Housewives, in Southland and Royal Pains, is, obviously, very much at home in this intimate setting. She’s also at home on Broadway or in the movies. Her lilting sweet soprano is reminiscent of the 20s/30s cuties who entertained during that era, as she playfully tells Noel Coward’s tale “Mad About the Boy” or portrays a floozy taxi dancer with “Ten Cents a Dance.” There’s no doubt Bergl would do a splendid Marlene Dietrich tribute, especially after her Germanic insistence in correctness with “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon” (sounds like Shane) as she moves thru the audience testing their pronunciation, perhaps a wee bit longer than need be.
She’s astute in just about all her song interpretations, squeezing every ounce of drama or comedy out of a song. The definitive, more modern highlight of the evening is Lily Allen & Greg Kurstin’s “The Fear” blending into Peter Brown & Robert Rans “Material Girl.” The Fear is a reflection of what’s on the mind of most females; PHAT (Perfect Hips and Thighs) and the lyrics get to the heart of it all . . . “I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel anymore . . . I’m being taken over by The Fear. . . Everything’s cool as long as I’m getting thinner.”
Her semi-inebriated “Something Cool” (Billy Barnes) had just the right mix and Roy Orbison/Joe Melson’s “Cryin’ “ became a passionate-filled ballad with equal parts sadness. Atop the piano, her flippant, throw-it-away style to Dave Frishberg’s “Peel Me a Grape” was a tribute to Blossom Dearie. Accompanied by Jonathan Mastro, musical director, there were added vocal harmonies with Ritt Henn on bass and ukulele.
Ms. Bergl, who has a dancer’s body, wore a tear away, vintage style, gown that began as full length, soon to become a short dress and, with the help of an audience member who zipped off that section, revealed a short fringed showgirl costume enabling her to do a full split as she pranced and shook her booty to “I Don’t Feel like Dancin’ “ (Scott Hoffman/Jason Sellards/Elton John). A sassy, brassy lass, Ms. Bergl doesn’t think twice about flirting shamelessly with the men in the audience (or the women for that matter), landing on the lap of one gentleman near me.
Although it’s obvious that singing isn’t her strong point, no matter. She’s a consummate actress and interpreter and I’m not kidding!
Emily Bergl can be seen at the Algonquin on West 44th St. thru September 10th. 212 419-9331
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