WALL STREET JOURNAL
Friday, September 30,
Karen Akers: 'Live, Laugh, Love'
By Will Friedland
The Oak Room (at the Algonquin Hotel)
59 W. 44th St., (212) 840-6800
Through Oct. 29
Ms. Akers is no slouch at singing the canonical songbook colossi (as on her 2008 album "Simply Styne"), but where she really excels is in the interpretation of such modern masters as Kander & Ebb and Maury Yeston. In her finest Oak Room offering yet, Ms. Akers divides Sondheim numbers, both famous and obscure, into categories suggested by the climactic song from "Follies," and she starts by turning "Live, Laugh, Love" into something less caustic and more directly upbeat than it is at the Marriott Marquis. She gives us Sondheim the romantic ("Take the Moment"), Sondheim the trickster (his little known Gershwin homage "More"), Sondheim the tragedian ("Loving You") and Sondheim the showman ("Let Me Entertain You"). But the point that most resonates is that the composer-lyricist is often the most resolutely Sondheimian, the most purely himself, when expressing unbridled rapture, as in Ms. Akers's 11 o'clock number, "What More Do I Need?"