by Stephen Hanks, April 17, 2011

lisa jason - cabaret scenes

It may have taken all weekend to discover a breakout performer during this season’s annual Cape Cod Cabaret Fest, but when regional favorite Lisa Jason launched her set at the Crown & Anchor cabaret room on an early Sunday afternoon, it was like savoring a luscious desert after the eggs Benedict. While the Fest featured some fine singers during the Friday night open mic (including local talent Brian De Lorenzo, Joni Rapp, Elaine St. George, Lynda D’Amour, Terry Givens, Shepley Metcalf, Diane Carey, Tedi Marsh and Louis Sacco), and a hoot of a Saturday afternoon Cougars on the Prowl show (starring Hyannis resident Patricia Fitzpatrick and her New York partners in cougar crime Dana Lorge and Helena Grenot), Jason’s superb set kept a rapt brunch crowd from focusing on their danish and coffee.

Stepping out in what has become her trademark “prom dress” look, the auburn-haired pixie raised everyone’s temperature on a chilly Sunday morning with a cool, jazzy version of Peggy Lee’s hit “Fever,” the first in a string of songs paying tribute to her musical inspirations. With a voice that can be alternately strong, sassy or sensuous, Jason followed with a trio of Judy Garland classics and wowed the crowd with a version of “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” with a power that belied her petite stature. At that point, her renditions of “Smile” and “Over the Rainbow” seemed almost anti-climatic.

With Fred Boyle on piano, Laird Boles on bass, and Bart Weisman on drums sounding like the entire orchestra from Funny Girl, Lisa then delivered “Don’t Rain on My Parade” with such conviction and heart that the show could have ended right there and we would have gone home happily satiated with food, drink and Jason.

Lisa used the extended applause as an opportunity to quickly change outfits and returned to the stage looking like a mimosa in a champagne flute. Wearing a sleeveless, floor-length yellow gown with glittery silver streaks, she told of her childhood crush on David Cassidy and purred the great Doris Day hit “Secret Love” into his photograph. Lisa continued her tribute to the 1960s with a “The Beat Goes On”/ “I Got You Babe” Sonny and Cher medley (with Boles serving as Sonny), the Dusty Springfield hit “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.” She sang The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” as a ballad.

Throughout the set, Jason proved herself a performer who is very comfortable and personable on stage, and possesses an intimate, conversational style is relating to the audience. But the showstoppers of her seamless production was a linking of “At the Ballet” and “The Music and the Mirror” (A Chorus Line), and Frank Wildhorn/Nan Knighton’s “Gold” (Camille Claudel), all sung with a combination of emotion and abandon that had the brunch crowd raising their cocktail glasses to toast the diva of Cape Cod cabaret.