Actress/singer Sandy Bainum, a blonde herself (see above photo), paid tribute to a large roster of other golden haired singer/actresses in her cabaret show Ever Blondeward which she performed at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal on Sunday, November 10. Starting with Miss Peggy Lee and ending with Mitzi Gaynor, she also managed to work in Ginger Rogers, Delores Grey, Alice Faye, Angela Lansbury and many more. Under the direction of cabaret legend Andrea Marcovicci, and with great musical accompaniment from her three piece band led by music director/pianist Lanny Meyers and including bassist Nate Light and guitarist Grant Geissman, Bainum presented some factoids on all her ladies as well as performing some of their well-known hits as well as some surprises.
She had the audience eating out of her well-manicured hand from the start, especially when she encouraged them to join her in the chorus of Doris Day’s immortal “Que Sera Sera”. She coaxed a young man to join her through some frenzied dance moves while she jived to “My Boy Flat Top”, a chart topper by Dorothy Collins in 1955 (and I thought she only sang Sondheim). Bainum got swept off her feet by an overly rambunctious guy while doodling along in the audience to June Allyson’s “The Doodle Song.” Who among you knew Judy Holliday is featured on the LP Music for a Bachelor’s Den Sex Kittens in Hi-Fi? Bainum had the album and sang the sexy “Occasional Man”. She also sensually purred her way through Irving Berlin’s “Lazy” though the management did not provide her with a divan to lounge upon a la Marilyn Monroe in the film There’s No Business Like Show Business. Even though Bainum started “I’m Hip” in Blossom Dearie’s little girl voice, she is not a female impersonator. She sang the songs in her fashion, giving us a glimpse at how the original blondes performed them.
It wasn’t all sensuality and comic shenanigans. Bainum came across even better with stellar renditions of some classic ballads like ‘If He Walked Into My Life” from Mame or Rosemary Clooney’s stylish “Hey There”. She really hit her stride and her high notes with tributes to Shirley Jones (”Being in Love”) and Barbara Cook (“Vanilla Ice Cream”). She ended the show with the plaintive/wistful “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell but left her audience in a hopeful mood with her encore of “Cock-eyed Optimist”. Blondes and others really had reason to rejoice with Bainum’s homage to the blondes that came before her and inspired her.