Karen Akers





By William Wolf



 If you enjoy Cole Porter songs, you’ll find plenty to satisfy you at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel, and if you enjoy Karen Akers, as well you should, the pleasure will be doubled. Akers is reveling in Porter in her new show “Anything Goes,” which runs from Sept. 22 through Oct. 24, thus allowing plenty of time to partake of this lively helping of scintillating entertainment that makes the celebrated room comes joyously alive. Akers, looking great and rendering every lyric with utter clarity, creates the sort of party atmosphere that probably would have delighted Porter.nterestingly, although singing some of the better known Porter numbers, she doesn’t just dwell on those but reaches into his treasury for lesser known songs as well. She also gives us her own approach instead of being bound by the kind of rhythms and interpretations that are often resorted to more conventionally.

An early example in her program is “Don’t Fence Me In,” to which Akers applies a heartfelt longing for the freedom that the lyrics promise instead of customary bounciness. Ditto for “Anything Goes,” which she sings as if she really means it. “I Get a Kick Out of You” has a languidly romantic aura. And her “Buddy Beware” emerges as a twinkling warning of the perils of becoming involved with a grasping lady. Akers also puts her own spin on the lesser heard “Come to the Supermarket (in Old Peking),”“The Physician” and “Where Have you Been?”

She is closest to the mood often associated with Porter’s wit when she sings the sarcastic “Thank You So Much Mrs. Lowsborough—Goodby” and, with special credit to Noel Coward and Irving Berlin, “Let’s Do It,” sung with a sassy blend of sex and humor. Her excellent pianist and musical director Don Rebic –Dick Sarpola is on bass--rescued her on opening night with a bit of prompting on “Let’s Do it,” which has an avalanche of smart lyrics fleshing out the lengthy number. Late in the song Akers forgot how a few clever lines began, but she has the ease with an audience that permits her to pick up gracefully and informally, demonstrating what a thorough pro and charmer she is.

A highlight is the Paris suite, in which she applies her sophistication to “I Love Paris,” “Allez-Vous En” and “You Don’t Know Paree.” When she shifts into French, her accent is smoothly on target. Akers also gets mileage from Porter’s amusing “Can-Can.” The chanteuse pours abundant nostalgia into her interpretation of “Take Me Back to Manhattan,” and her encore number advises audiences to do what she says she likes to do in life—“Experiment.”

The show has been directed by Eric Michael Gillett. And a swell party it is.