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CABARET REVIEW : Unveiling the ‘Voices’ Behind Screen Illusion

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Illusions may be the stuff that dreams are made of, but in the movie industry, they’re just another trick of the trade. “Voices,” a cabaret revue at the Cinegrill, illustrates how tricky some of movie history’s most memorable musical moments have gotten.

The stars of “Voices” are India Adams, Annette Warren and Jo Ann Greer. Not exactly household names, their voices at one time were better known than they were. Each was, several decades ago, a prominent vocal “double,” providing “ghost” singing for such stars as Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Lucille Ball and June Allyson.

Tuesday’s opening night program was a minimalist production, staged by David Galligan. Preceding each of the singers was a video projection of scenes from films they had dubbed. Then, individually, they re-created one of the film numbers, added a few reminiscences and made a case for themselves as contemporary performers.

Obviously, the recent Milli Vanilli lip-syncing scandal has brought new attention to the elusive roles played by Adams, Warren and Greer in such old musicals as “Torch Song,” “The Bandwagon,” “Show Boat” and “Pal Joey.” Belated credit is preferable to no credit, but “Voices” would have little credibility if the novelty of connecting real-life singers with fading movie clips was all it had to offer.

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Fortunately, the performers--all within sight of 60 from one direction or the other--are still fairly reliable singers. Adams’ warm, husky voice had a scattering of problems with the far-ranging intervals of “Tenderly,” but she more than recovered with “Two-Faced Woman” (a song that Adams sang for Joan Crawford as well as Cyd Charisse in two different films).

Warren, whose career has been active since the ‘50s, brightened the retro aspects of her set with a witty new love song from David Ross titled “Questionnaire.” Her only difficulty was an occasional tendency to soar up into not always trustworthy head tones for climactic moments.

Greer’s voice, however, showed absolutely no signs of wear. Lacking the smooth and easy stage presence of the other two “Voices,” she made up for some awkward patter with coolly articulate readings of “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me” and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.”

* “Voices,” Cinegrill, Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Thursdays, 9 p.m.; Fridays-Saturdays, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 8 p.m. Ends Sept. 7. $15; (213) 466-7000. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

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