Challenges aside, singer Shari Lynn and her keyboarder Jim Howard are back at the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Paradise Lounge, located outside of the Bali restaurant in the Rainbow Tower.
She’ll be back, doing three sets from 7 p.m. on Feb. 18. Her agenda: performances on the second and fourth Saturdays each month.
Distractions and obstacles aside, Shari is a splendid optimist, sharing her skills of a stage actress, educator (retired) advocate of the Great American Songbook music, communicator and sometimes nightclub attraction, like this gig.
Ultimately, she distinguishes herself as a true chanteuse, with her ditties evolving as mini-stories that probe the essence of the lyrics, resulting in exquisite theatrical powerhouses. She’s on the money and she certainly works hard at her craft.
She focuses and digs deeply into the emotions of her tunes, as if she were delivering a romantic ballad or a swing-thing from stage center. It’s not just her voice that sings, but her hands become part of her accentuate-the-positive expressions..
This, amid several pillars that restrict viewing for her devotees, and occasional hotel diners criss-crossing while she sings. She asks a restaurant aide to turn off a TV screen facing her from an opposite wall (a distraction for her, but not the audience – the volume is off) and the errant chit-chats from diners awaiting a table can be heard, too.
Through all of this, she soldiers on with a repertoire that taps Broadway and screen classics, a bit of jazz, for which she’s known. This is not the perfect venue, but she has the manner and motivation to entertain and enchant her listeners nonetheless.
Over two sets, you’ll know and embrace her selections: “This Could Be the Start of Something Big” (with altered lyrics mentioning Waikiki and the Bali), “Send in the Clowns” (the Stephen Sondheim signature, perfect for a little night music serenade), “If He Walked Into My Life” (high drama, packed with sentiment).
Musically, Shari covers a lot of ground. Oldies are crisp, when she taps “Where or When,” “The Gypsy in My Soul,” “Getting to Know You,” “The Best Is Yet to Come.” Even “It’s Not Easy Being Green” is rich in texture, and whoa, her bossa nova parody is one to experience, too.
On this night, her pal Mary Gutzi, a star of Broadway and Hawaii stages, gets up and hits homers with “ ‘Swonderful” (‘Smarverlous, perfect rendering) and “Someone to Watch Over Me” (sustaining the power of the lyrics). Gutzi is on hiatus here, waiting for New York to defrost, but also has been offering vocal coaching.
This joyous serenade couldn’t happen without pianist Howard, who gets and deserves generous solo-keyboard interludes on many selections, a gift not commonly shared by other warblers. But he connects with the singers. Or, as Shari opines, “He breathes with you,” referring to Howard’s absorbing style of expression via his fingers.
He also is kinda of one-man geek squad; with his Roland keyboard momentarily posing problems, he finds the right plugs to keep the ball rolling. And his remarkable solo of Vince Guaraldi’s “The Charley Brown Christmas Song” was note-for-note as good as the original. …
And that’s Show Biz. …