To Andrew she will always be the “gorgeous, she’s one lady who knows how to take care of herself” half of Hart to Hart. To Phil – who is generationally more senior – she will always be April Dancer, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.
But who knew The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. was a spoof? Phil certainly didn’t. He probably thought he was watching documentary at the time but one of the anecdotes Stefanie Powers shares in her cabaret Hart of My Heart, A Tribute to Lorenz Hart, in the Matcham Room of The Hippodrome Casino put Phil straight. Well, on that subejct at least.
Of course for many of you younger ones she will just be someone who was on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! So we’ve dipped into her “official website” to give you a little taste of Ms Powers:
If one measures Hollywood stars by such traditional markers as grace, beauty and sophistication, then Stefanie Powers harkens back to Hollywood’s Golden Era when stars were the essence of what everybody dreamed to be. And if one measures the quality of a person by their sense of dedication, their concern for the world around them, by their ability to step outside themselves and see the greater importance of community and society, then Stefanie Powers exemplifies the “new Hollywood” — smart, charismatic, committed and, yes, sexy.
Actress Stefanie Powers, whose charming and thoughtful real-life personality may most closely resemble stunning renaissance woman Jennifer Hart, the character she portrayed on the hit television series “Hart to Hart”, has combined a natural curiosity and passion for knowledge, world travel and diverse cultures into both an award-winning acting career and an equally active life of heartfelt philanthropic work.
Mmmm, well, quite. That is Hollywood after all, but what’s refreshing about Powers is that in performance there’s barely a trace of the schmaltzy guff in a set that’s tighter than her black (with a bit of sparkle dripping down the right side) clingy dress and comes across as someone in whose company one is more than happy to spend an hour or so.
What’s more she can put over a song. OK, so she’s sometimes a bit wobbly on the big notes and occasionally a bit breathy, but it’s hardly surprising since she’s had part of her right lung removed. It’s a wonder that she can sing at all, or that she tries.
But sing she does, rifling through the Lorenz Hart songbook, sprinkling it with biographical details and autobiographical titbits. And she’s got the balance spot on. One minute she’s telling you about the extraordinary list of guest stars* who appeared on TGF Uncle with her, the next warbling her way seamlessly through the protracted evolution of the (eventually) classic “Blue Moon”.
Of course, we were brought onside the moment we arrived at the entrance to the cabaret room, “I’ll show you to your table. It’s 1 hour 10 minutes. May I take an your order for drinks?”
Warming up the crowd in the less-than-full room can’t have been easy, but by the time she got to zip splendidly through the WEW-fave “Zip” from Pal Joey we clearly weren’t the only ones who had hopped on board.
What of the Matcham Room? Well, you can eat at your table – we didn’t, as we’d consider it rude (drinking is another thing altogether) so you can watch the cabaret over a faint whiff of chips (not the ones in use at the tables you walk past to get to the Matcham Room). Every piece of kit and caboodle is brand spanking new and the sound is excellent. We didn’t miss a word and how often can you say that?
Stef is well matched by a terrific three-piece band (music arranged and conducted by Mary Ekler), looks great (she’ll turn 70 in a couple of weeks) has a very likeable personality and genially subverted her encore.
She’s only on here until Saturday, if you can’t catch her now just hope she returns. We certainly would.
And so it wasn’t “moider”** at all.
*Who knew Boris Karloff appeared in drag in an episode of Uncle set in “London, England”,”The Mother Muffin Affair” playing the titular Muffin (that’s him pictured here)? You can watch the full episode here.
** If you’re not of a certain age, you can hear Lionel Stander uttering that immortal word in the classic opening credits to Hart to Hart here.