Spotlight Cabaret: Candace Neal

Spotlight Cabaret: Candace Neal

Spotlight Cabaret: Candace Neal
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL
July 21, 2011

She’s a tall one, that Ms. Neal, and she seems to have sprouted an inch or two since her last appearance here in “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” That means even the people in the back of this crowed lobby can see her as she towers over the front row seats. Tonight she’s come out in a the middle of a Central Florida gully washer to sing for us, accompanied by the much shorter Timothy Pappas on the baby grand. Like all the Spotlight Cabaret girls, Ms. Neal mixes solid singing with a charming personality and a not completely convincing claim she’s nervous. They all say that but no one ever has any trouble controlling the room, and tonight she’s backed by Mr. Papas who not only helps her with piano but in other more personal aspects of life as well. The pair has a positive chemistry that makes for a great song writing and performing duo.

Ms. Neal cheats us on the open with a few bars of “Memories” but mercifully leaves the cats out in the rain to fend for themselves. The real opener is “Love Will Keep Us Together” followed by “Dye My Hair Blue” and what my wine stained notes show as “The Hooker Song.” It must have been good, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the real title. She next takes a swipe at show tunes aimed at male singers – “Nothing Like a Dame”, “Mr. Cellophane” and she almost but not quite hits the low notes on “‘Old man River”. She’s tall enough to make those notes, but not wide enough.

After a short break to freshen our drinks and see if anyone’s car was swept away, Ms Neal return to accompany herself on “Short People.” She written a few tunes as well, and remind us the there’s nothing like unrequited love to make good music. We hear a few of her originals, ending with the best love song ever: “Check Yes Or No.” More impersonal than speed dating, it’s a natural candidate for the App Store. The evening flies by, the rains fade, and it’s time for that last round of applause before the encore, a smoking “Son of a Preacher Man.” We stand, we file out into the freshly washed night – is that the moon peeking out? Oh, crap – I left my window open. Maybe I can find a dry towel somewhere…

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