Reviews for “Peggy Lee: Is that all there Is?” 2018
The playlist is impeccable. Hard-core Peggy Lee fans cannot complain about repertoire choice, presentation or musical style as Brigitte Baden-Rennie (beautifully accompanied by Dave McEvoy on keyboard and Jenna Bonavita on acoustic double bass) performs her intelligent and entertaining homage to the great jazz/pop vocal stylist.
Baden-Rennie sings seventeen songs, some written by Lee, all sung by Lee, and some of them not very well-known, except to rusted-on Lee enthusiasts. Yes, she sings Fever. And Black Coffee and Is That All There Is? But Baden-Rennie has researched thoroughly and includes a number of obscure Peggy Lee numbers too. She intersperses songs with biographical material about the singer, her origins, her career of six decades, and her personal life. This wealth of material helps to contextualise the songs; her acting skill keeps this information lively and interesting.
Dressed in flowing full-length black, only relieved by a gold brooch and necklace, Baden-Rennie’s tall frame dominates the room. She makes no attempt to look like Peggy Lee, or to copy her vocal tone. Baden-Rennie’s own rich voice strays further south than Lee’s, but her timbre is ideal for the Lee playlist, and her musicianship recreates the Lee “feel” to each song.
Bass and keyboard accompany her voice with balance and sensitivity. In the slower, blues-based numbers, they play with restraint, but in the more up-tempo songs, they add verve and smart jazz licks. There was great cross-phrasing on a driving version of It’s Alright With Me, and Ellington’s chromatically demanding I’m Gonna Go Fishin’.. . . . the spirit of Peggy Lee is honoured in this elegant performance, and the sound of Baden-Rennie’s emotionally raw performance of When The World Was Young (Gérard/Mercer) will haunt you for some time to come.
Reviewed by Pat. H. Wilson
Reviews for “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? A celebration of female songwriters” 2014
” . . . . Brigitte Baden-Rennie, as Red, presents a collection of songs written by women, some famous, some obscure, with a general theme of human ‘wolves’, beginning with He’s a Tramp, from the Walt Disney film, Lady and the Tramp, with lyrics written by Peggy Lee and Sonny Burke, and sung in the film by Peggy Lee. Lee also collaborated with Duke Ellington on I’m Gonna Go Fishin’, which featured later in the performance.
Baden-Rennie took He’s a Tramp and made it swing like crazy, with the help of her magical, musical pixie, the always in demand, Matthew Carey. Big names, like Dorothy Fields, who wrote the book for the musical, Annie Get Your Gun, as part of her vast output, to unfamiliar names, but women who wrote very well known songs, we were taken on a great musical tour of the 20th Century. We also learned a lot about the life and times of these many women.
Sunny Side of the Street brought forth another swinging powerhouse rendition, but blues, gospel, pop, and more, all got the Baden-Rennie treatment. Bernice Petkere may not ring a bell, but her song, Close Your Eyes, would be instantly recognised by many. The Best is Yet to Come was prophetic, with one sensational song after another given fresh and exciting interpretations by this skilled and talented, internationally travelled performer.
Baden-Rennie is performing this wonderful show in a range of venues around Adelaide and, if you like high quality, memorable music, superbly performed, with a clever and informative narrative, then you will love this unique cabaret production.”
Barry Lenny for Broadway World
” . . . Granny travelled a lot, picking up husbands and music along the way. The songs are all by women and many about the big bad wolves in their lives. Peggy Lee and Blossom Deary are well known, Dorothy Fields less so, and the names Bernice Petkere and Jess Blumenthal probably won’t ring a bell. Brigitte Baden-Rennie, well known to lovers of great singing in Adelaide brings wit to her choices and delivers each song with skill, excellent diction and a mature voice. Each song is a story and each is told well.
She brings out the humour in Lee’s trout fishing song and Fran Landesman’s Feet do your stuff.
Her rewritten update of Deary’s slightly creepy I’m shadowing you references the NSA surveillance scandal and is deliciously funny, but she brings something special to Jess Blumenthal’s The lies of handsome men. . . . . At the piano, her wood elf Matthew Carey is a consummate partner.
For lovers of sophisticated songs, this is a five star treat. She doesn’t disappoint“.
Rating: 5 Stars
Ewart Shaw for The Advertiser
“The audience was touched, and physically moved, by the relevance and intimacy of the chosen song and story. SA/UK performer Brigitte Baden-Rennie of the The Mosaic Cat takes us through a journey of Gran’s life with musical renditions from Blossom Dearie, Peggy Lee and Laura Nyro, to name a few. We experience an understanding of what life was really like through her relationships, good and bad, and the trauma of heartbreak and longing. Ending on a sing-a-long tune of Petula Clark’s “Couldn’t Live without Your Love”, Who’s Afraid Of the big Bad Wolf? is a passionate and touching performance from a humble, yet experienced performer”.
Kris Neilson for Rip It Up
Reviews for “Partners in Crime” 2011
“Forget about seeing 14 shows this Fringe; One night with Brigitte Baden-Rennie will give you all the drama you crave. Every song . . is given it’s full dramatic weight by this alluring performer. . . she has the life experience to back all her song choices and a voice with the character of single malt, smooth, smokey and a touch of fire behind it . . . she gives it all and then some more.
Ewart Shaw (Advertiser)
“(Brigitte) is a natural performer, and her comfortable, relaxed stage presence makes the show all the more engaging with no hint of contrivance. The interactions with the audience . . create spontaneity and genuine connection.
The quietly haunting a capella version of Tracy Chapman’s “Behind the Wall” is one of the highlights. The helpless tone of resignation, chilling lyrics and Baden-Rennie’s sorrow-filled eyes will remain in my mind for a long time.
The eclectic song choice is a winner . . a fine example of quality cabaret”.
Lena Nobuhara (Cabaret Confessional Associate Editor)
” . . a comical, sexy, infectious romp . . It’s like workshopping with a friend . . (Brigitte’s) extensive vocal range slides effortlessly between songs . . there are laughs galore in every aspect of this unique show, from her choice of songs to the sometimes surprising responses from the audience. Only a brave, competent performer can control a crowd so masterfully to keep the show on track. . . (a show) well worth revisiting just for the pleasure of spending more time with her.
Rod Lewis (Glam, Adelaide)
“(Brigitte’s) smooth and sensual speaking voice . . fills the tightly packed room . . the range of music allows the audience to ebb and flow with whatever number is performed, from drunken love to overwhelming and dramatic passion, Brigitte takes us on a ride to remember. . . a steal of a show that shouldn’t be missed.”
Emma Kew (“jdtoo” twitter reviews)
Vox Pops from the Butterfly Club, Melbourne here.
The putting together of “Partners in Crime”:
“Partners in Crime” was just a few pages of scribble until my path crossed that of the wonderful Tim Smith of Vocal Alchemy and his “partner in crime” Laura Hamilton, who directed the show and also helped kick start my writing brain.
I can not thank this dynamic duo enough.
Performance History for “Partners in Crime”:
The Butterfly Club , Melbourne, Australia
El Roco, Sydney, Australia
La Boheme, Adelaide, Australia
The Whitmore Hotel, Adelaide, Australia
The Pheasantry, London, UK
The Tom Thumb Theatre , Cliftonville, Kent, UK