Donna McKechnie in “Same Place, Another Time”

Donna Mckechnie

Cabaret Review-Donna McKechnie,the original Cassie in the 1970s Broadway production of “A Chorus Line”, at The Crazy Coqs.

Donna Mc Kechnie

“..she saved the best till last…a stunning rendition of “Hate/Love New York”…I literally could not take my eyes off her.”

The original Cassie in the 1970s Broadway production of “A Chorus Line”, Donna McKechnie entered The Crazy Coqs dancing exuberantly, looking great and getting us all into a party mood despite being 72 – yes, hard to believe, and it got harder as the night went on.

Taking us through the story of her love affair with New York and including the highlights of her career, our immediate thought was how apt that she should be in London while there is at present a revival in the West End of the very show that made her name.  She told me she is looking forward to seeing the show and that she is pleased this revival “..honours the original choreography.”

With great self-deprecatory wit, Donna told us of her encounters – indeed relationship – with her analyst ( she is, after all, a child of the ‘50’s), her somewhat turbulent love-life, and her enduring love of dance, perhaps most particularly with ballet. Naturally, one of the standout numbers was the deeply personal “At the Ballet” from “A Chorus Line”, the writing of which was based on her own background and experiences.

Pianist Nathan Martin provided excellent support, not least when playing the role of the analyst!

Her voice, whilst not as strong in the high notes as it once was, is still powerful and needless to say, she moves beautifully. Her patter is witty and informative and her links into songs effective. One link that worked particularly well was her introduction to Irving Berlin’s “Better Luck Next Time”, coming out of recollecting one of those therapy sessions.

However, she saved the best till last. In a stunning rendition of “Hate/Love New York” by Portia Nelson, her dance moves held us mesmerised and whilst I wanted to jot down some notes, I literally could not take my eyes off her.

The audience loved it – and so did I.

Donna McKechnie - Newsweek Donna McKechnie in “A Chorus Line” 1975

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About Fiona Jane Weston

I am Fiona-Jane Weston and as well as being a performer myself (see website), I write reviews of and features on shows, mainly on the London cabaret and theatre scene. I have worked in theatre for many years, but decided to embark on a new direction in cabaret in 2009, when I produced 20th Century Woman: The Compact Cabaret. Not wanting to neglect my love of spoken word, particularly drama and verse, I made the conscious decision to include these elements in the programme, as well as wonderful songs, to tell the story of women's changing status and preoccupations throughout the 20th Century and up to now. I was invited to audition for the renowned Cabaret Conference at Yale, run by the late legendary Erv Raible, and that was thrilled to be one of only 26 accepted that year, where I was taught by the masters of the genre. Amanda McBroom (composer of the Bette Middler hit "The Rose" and the poignant "Errol Flynn"), Laurel Massé, original member of Manhattan Transfer, Sally Mayes, Tony Award nominees Sharon McNight and Tovah Feldshuh, and New York cabaret veteran Julie Wilson were all on the faculty. We were also treated to the musical direction of Alex Rybeck, Hubert Tex Arnold and the now late Paul Trueblood. With the benefit of their insightful teaching and great encouragement, I took my show to The Duplex in New York, where I was delighted with the response. Since then, I have produced Loving London: The Capital Cabaret, using the same format of songs, poetry and drama, in various London venues, including Leicester Square Theatre and The Crazy Coqs. 2014, the centenary of World War 1, saw the launch of Wartime Women: the Khaki Cabaret to a sellout house at St. James Theatre, London, garnering great notices, including from The Times and Musical Theatre Review. I have since been touring the show to Belgium and throughout the UK. I hope these reviews and interviews entertain and educate at the same time, and if please do leave comments in the box. It's great to engage in a conversation about the Arts. Fiona-Jane Weston
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