Following in the career steps of a famous parent can be both hazardous and rewarding. And when, as with Lucie Arnaz, there are two high-visibility, high-achiever parents from the same career field -- in her case, entertainment -- the risks become even more pronounced.
To her credit, Arnaz has managed to step beyond the looming shadows of her parents, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, in a 35-year career reaching from the Broadway stage to television, films and recordings. She dipped into all those skills in an engaging cabaret set Tuesday that opened her five-night stint at the Cinegrill in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
Family matters surfaced fairly quickly via a whimsical Arnaz original song, "Lucie With an 'I-E' " -- clearly inspired in spirit and content by Liza Minnelli's "Say Liza (Liza With a 'Z')." The balance of the program embraced standards, a few lesser-known, but utterly compelling cabaret numbers (Craig Carnelia's "Just a Housewife," Lesley Gore's "Other Lady," Ron Abel and Chuck Steffan's "Until Now") and another original ("View From Here," by Arnaz and Madeline Stone).
Arnaz, singing with a warm, throaty sound and a phrase-ending quaver, brought a dramatic viewpoint to each tune, telling the stories with an actor's concern for lyrical detail and emotional thrust. But aside from intimate renderings in the latter part of her set -- especially "Just a Housewife" and "Quierme Mucho" (Yours) -- she was at her best in her lighthearted, between-numbers comments.
Interacting freely with an opening-night crowd that included a number of celebrity friends, Arnaz was quick with a witty remark and a colorful reminiscence, mobile and spontaneous in manner.
Arnaz has the skills to be a convincing cabaret artist. But she needs to reach beyond the techniques of acting into the untrammeled hearts of her songs.
Where: The Cinegrill, Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.
When: 8:30 tonight, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Price: $30-$45, plus $10 in food or beverages
Contact: (323) 769-7269