LINDA PURL IN CABARET ROLE

The road from song and dance to movies and TV has been an unusually successful passage for stars ranging from Frank Sinatra and Doris Day to Diana Ross and Kris Kristofferson.

But the pathway in the opposite direction--as such cinema queens as Diane Keaton and Cybill Shepherd have discovered, to their dismay--hasn't been quite so smooth.

Saturday night at the Cinegrill, actress Linda Purl tried to buck the odds with a well-thought-out nightclub act that was long on planning, but a bit too short on interest.

Looking smooth and elegant in a skintight sheath, Purl had all the right moves--a dramatic profile here, a flash of silken leg there, the wide eyes of a gamin on the sweet songs, the hauteur of a woman of the world on the sophisticated numbers.

It was all done with the easy grace of the fine actress that she has become, but lovely as the setting was, the script tried--as it often does in the movie business--to be too many things to too many people.

The problems came when Purl's small, not unpleasant voice was asked to reach beyond its present limits of skill. Delicately framed songs like "He's No Good for Me," "Lazy Afternoon," "We Had a Moment" and "I Don't Remember You" allowed her to find the best blend between drama and music.

But she was far less appealing on the big, brassy belting numbers, and out of her depth in one or two jazz-oriented pieces.

A medley of World War II songs--including a lovely version of "You'll Never Know" sung in French--was the most fascinating set-piece of the evening, and represented the kind of easy balance between skill and material that will have to be found if Purl is to successfully travel the rocky road from movies to music. Purl continues at the Cinegrill next Friday and Saturday nights.

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