Deborah Pearl is funny, poignant and always in good voice in her one-woman show at the Cinegrill that depicts struggling female singers in various stages in their careers.
A French girl, Natalie Frachet, dreams of growing up, going to America and becoming a blues singer like her idol, Mabel Jamison. Carol Hart gets her big break when a Broadway star can't go on for a road show, but breaks her daughter's heart in backstage telephone conversations. Frankie Olin finds the thrill is gone as she plods through country tunes and attempts to look animated during the instrumental solos.
Opera diva Miriam Wells snips and snarls as her career hits the skids, contrasting nicely with the homey humbleness of Mabel, the country's oldest living blues singer.
Jazz singer Anita Mason remembers her big break, but cigarettes eventually claim her smoky voice.
Carol's daughter, Tory, has a slight pitch problem, but that doesn't stop her from getting a record contract as a punk rocker.
Natalie will achieve parts of her dream. Carol will see her self-absorption reflected in her destructive, angry daughter. Frankie will find renewed faith.
Pearl, who wrote this piece, takes the audience on short journeys, some of which intertwine--most notably when Natalie meets Miriam.
Combining humor with heartache, Pearl transitions easily from character to character with minor costuming under Clifford Bell's tightly paced direction.
Pearl saves the best for last, performing some songs as herself, a "chick singer" with a great sense of humor.
"Chick Singers," Cinegrill, 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Sundays, 8 p.m.; Mondays, 8 p.m. Dark Aug. 6, 13-14. Ends Aug. 28. $15, two-drink minimum. (323) 466-7000. Running time: 1 hour, 30 min.