LOWELL -- A word to the wise: Do not attend a Patti Lupone show on a Saturday when you are reviewing a Susan Lucci and Regis Philbin concert on a Sunday. The experience is like eating soy-lime dressed tuna tartare for lunch and then cracking open a can of Chicken of the Sea with a heaping side of Miracle Whip for dinner. This is the mistake I made over the weekend.
Broadway diva Lupone was dark and deliciously bitter in her cabaret concert in Waltham (yes, Waltham). But this isn't a review of Patti's show. Still, after hearing Lupone's inventive take on the American songbook, it was difficult to sit through Lucci's rote interpretation of "Fever," which actually felt a tad chilly. The "All My Children" star has a perfectly serviceable voice. As she pointed out during her opening set on Sunday, she even replaced Bernadette Peters in "Annie Get Your Gun." But Lucci's singing at the Lowell show was as uninspired as her dialogue between songs. Every sentence she spoke seemed to end with an exclamation point. My companion muttered something about needing a "barf bag" (his words, not mine) whenever Lucci started her overenthusiastic chatter.
It's hard to give a full assessment of Philbin's singing, because he spent most of his time onstage telling jokes and chatting with the audience. I suspect he would have been more comfortable handing out cash prizes rather than singing "Me and My Shadow ." But there was a certain charm to his vocals, not unlike a masculine-sounding Wayne Newton . But Philbin preferred to spend his time talking about how Madonna asked him to be the godfather of her newly adopted son, or how he beat Carson Kressley on "
His off-color fat jokes, gay jokes, and Viagra jokes were painful, but Philbin's natural rapport with an audience was evident when he plucked a verbose former stripper from the crowd and serenaded her with "Oh! You Beautiful Doll." Much like that former stripper in the green stretch pants, we were also defenseless against the affability of Philbin's blustery barbs.
Christopher Muther can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.