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Life is a Cabaret, A Review of The Devil in Miss Joan by Bill VansSant, associate editor

‘Devilish’ Crowe is Heaven!

Cabaret vocalist Joan Crowe took The Manor by storm last Thursday with her one-woman show, “The Devil in Miss Joan”—and served up one hell of a good time!

Crowe mixed a little bit of every thing in her act, from blues to show tunes to folk to old standards, demonstrating her versatility and range in the too short -show.

After beginning the show in a white choir robe, singing “Jesus Loves Me,” the devilishly divine Miss Joan tossed her pristine raiment aside to reveal a slinking, beaded red gown, the perfect attire for the songs to follow. Her “I Want to Be Evil” got things in gear with it bluesy, gritty feel, “I Love to Smoke,” a tongue-in-cheek tribute to lighting up, followed before Crowe propped herself a top the grand piano and turned a flower vase into an impromptu hookah. Combining the giddy soul of Fats Waller’s “Viper Drag” with the slinkiness of Michelle Pfeiffer in “The Fabulous Baker Boys, “ Crowe committed her ultimate musical blasphemy—“It’s Good to be God” by Charles Bloom—proving her razor-sharp wit is on an equal footing with her vocal prowess. The number stopped the show!

Her material and patter covered a gamut of topics, from sex to bad habits to being just plain ol’ mean. “Shatter illusions” was delivered with just the right amount of self-awareness, while her “Mean Woman Blues” shook the house and featured some hot piano-playing by Tedd Firth.

Among the highlights of the night was Crowe’s rendition of “Me and Mrs. Jones,” which was given an entirely new spin with a woman’s perspective, and benefited enormously from the heartbreaking tenderness Crowe invested into the interpretation. Crowe said at one point, “I think truly that the wickedest sins are the sins that we commit against ourselves, like doubt or self-loathing or regret.” With that, she put her story-telling skills into overdrive on “Lullaby in Blue,” followed later by “Lie to Me” and the tear-jerking story of her son asking if there really was a Santa Claus. On each song, Crowe’s vocal quality beautifully supported the acting intention of the piece, making each number a one-act show within itself.

A wonder to behold Joan Crowe will have you laughing one minute and dabbing at tears the next, all without resorting to cheap theatrical tricks.

She may have a little of the devil in her, but there’s a seat reserved in music heaven with Joan Crowe’s name on it!