THEATRE REVIEWS LIMITED (NEW YORK) • May 7, 2001
"An Evening With Beatrice Lillie"
with Layne Littlepage
At The High Spirits Room (New York)
Reviewed by David Roberts
Beatrice Lillie was a funny person. She was a very funny person. With performance timing that rivaled the best of Swiss timekeeping instruments, she knew how to capitalize on all her gifts and graces, including her wonderful physical presence.
Now through a charmingly circuitous route, Beatrice Lillie is appearing in the person of comedian and actor Layne Littlepage at the High Spirits Room, the room named after the 1963 show of the same name Ms. Lillie appeared in. The room is owned by Timothy Gray who co-wrote "High Spirits" and has added some wonderful new material to Layne Littlepage's show.
Ms. Littlepage couldn't personify and embody Ms. Lillie any more perfectly. She is the consummate stand-in for Beatrice Lillie in the new millennium. It is refreshing when a performer portrays a legend with respect and tastefulness (as far as one can stretch "tasteful" in describing Beatrice Lillie) and still manages to tweak the legend with a contemporary spirit.
Accompanied by Paul Katz (who successfully plays along with all of Ms. Littlepage's Lillie-like antics), Layne Littlepage sings and patters her way through Beatrice Lillie's career and cohorts with humor and charmed innocence. She breezes (practically rollerskates) through a funny "Rhythm" medley which includes not only the Rodgers and Hart song by the same name, but more than a few bars from nine other "rhythm-related" songs.
Other highlights of this show are "I Always Say Hello To A Flower," "The Fan," "The Yodeling Goldfish" and "Paree" with puns and other clever wordplay galore.
Perhaps the funniest part of "An Evening With Beatrice Lillie" is the "Swell Party Medley," during which Ms. Littlepage pairs Ms. Lillie up with the likes of Julie Andrews, Tallulah Bankhead and Noel Coward (among other contemporary notables).
This is a show about Beatrice Lillie in the venue owned by someone who knew her and worked with her, a venue where the smell of bread baking meets patrons during the curtain call. This is a show performed to perfection by Layne Littlepage. This is a show that deserves another look in Manhattan in the near future.