KT Sullivan in ‘Autumn in
Halfway through KT Sullivan’s solo return to the Oak Room at the Regency, I began to wonder whether she has ever considered reviving Anna Russell’s Ring cycle send-up. I was not musing about this because I would rather have been watching a Russell reiteration. Not at all. I loved every minute of Sullivan’s Autumn in New York program, which has been directed with utmost taste and humor by Eric Michael Gillett. Indeed, as she was gliding through her immaculately selected numbers, I was hoping she’d go on for hours—perhaps eventually getting to a sung-through rendition of the
Why the glorious Anna Russell came to me is because there are so few genuinely funny sopranos around at any given time. (Goodbye again, Madeline Kahn.) Sullivan is funny because she understates whatever she does with admirable control and a droll gaze. It’s as if she knows how gifted she is and understands she only has to do so much to display those gifts—among which, by the way, is the creamiest complexion this side of a moisturizer laboratory.
Yet, while Mae-West-blends-with-Kim-Novak Sullivan keeps the wry moues and gestures coming throughout Noël Coward’s “World Weary” and Michael Feingold’s translation of the Kurt Weill–Bertolt Brecht “Barbara Song,” she also gives profound meaning to somber items like Adam Guettel’s devastating “Dividing Day.” The pained, confused expression she’s caught with at threnody’s end is worth the admission price. There is a theme here, and it’s a valuable one about relishing life as a woman on the far side of 30. Mining that theme, Sullivan needn’t change a thing.