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Essex Journal

Performer Tennie Leonard can put a song in the heart of all who hear her vibrant voice. The diminutive diva completely charmed the unfortunately sparse audience which gathered under the glass-topped Le Dome at The Manor in West Orange on July 15.

Opening with "With A Song In My Heart," which showcased the big voice which seems to flow effortlessly from this little lady. Leonard expressed appreciation for the muted glamour of The Manor's skytop cabaret.

"I live in the city," New York City, that is, "so I don;t get to see this kind of ambiance too often."

Leonard related meeting her idol, Judy Garland, when the Hollywood legend paid an unexpected visit to Jilly's nightclub where Leonard performed when she was 18. The singer shared the thrill of meeting Garland with the Le Dome audience, regaling them with a medley of Judy favs, including "The Man That Got Away," "Get Happy," and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" with all songs containing an echo of their originator.

Leonard introduced her pianist, David Brunetti, who sang with her on two duets, "Once In A Blue Moon" by David Friedman and "It's the Little Things", by Stephen Sondheim. Leonard then broke into "On the 90th Floor," a lament to lost love and the perils of excess, and continued the feeling with "On My Own" from "Les Misérables" only to change the mood completely with the mischievous "The Mood I'm In."

Leonard showed off here range and her French with a rendition of Edit Piaf's "If You Really Love Me." Not done being mischievous, however, Leonard took on an exaggerated Long Island accent for the adorable, contemporary "Arthur In The Afternoon," then softened the twang for the sweet "Right as the Rain" and the upbeat "Cockeyed Optimist." Leonard finished the set with another number by David Friedman, "Borrowed Time."

Summer vacations are the only excuse which should be accepted for not packing every chair in Le Dome for this fine performer. She really can sell a song, and will sweep you up in the moment. If Leonard returns to The Manor after vacationers return from their respective destination, they should give this lady a hearing.

Jacqule McCarthy, Associate Editor, Essex Journal July 1999
 

CABARET SCENES

"The recently re-opened Judy's, in its new home in Chelsea, was the venue for Tennie Leonard's show. This handsome cabaret room with its warm, inviting ambiance, is a setting where one can enjoy a pre-show dinner.

On the evening we caught Ms. Leonard's performance, her show was being video taped. Scott Barnes, her director, made a brief comment vis-à-vis the taping but his concerns were happily unfounded.

Affectionate, enthusiastic applause welcomed Tennie to the stage. Sporting a new hair style and wearing an elegant, short evening dress the diminutive chanteuse evoked the glamour of the Supper Club era. Launching into her opening medley of Today and After Today, an upbeat grouping with superb instrumental accompaniment by her orchestra that was reminiscent of the Big Band sound, Ms, Leonard opened with a bang!

Down shifting effortlessly into the timeless ballad Isn't It Romantic, then catching her breath before the demanding and wonderful Judy Garland Medley, she reminisced about meeting Judy Garland, describing it as once of the "greatest nights of my life." Frank Sinatra brought Judy to Tennie's show and she performed for her idol.

A wonderful segue took her into a medley of her favorite Judy Garland songs. Tennie brought alternating smiles and goose bumps with her interpretation of the unforgettable lyrics of these timeless gems and I'm sure much singing along! Her velvet tones enfolded the audience in The Man Who Got Away which sprang to life in her talented hands. Although time and space won't allow a discussion of each song, Tennie's audiences have come to expect that she will sing certain ones - specifically the unforgettableNon, Rien De Rien (No Regrets), made famous by Edit Piaf and the hysterical Arthur In The Afternoon, sung with a fair Brooklyn accent.

A variety of standards, contemporary compositions and musical theatre songs filed the eclectic program. I would be remiss not to mention the talented musicians backing Tennie. Ably directed by long time musical director/arranger/collaborator and singing partner, David Brunetti, the group of musicians brought in for the video taping is not what one generally sees in the intimate cabaret venues and at times, the combines cacophony of sounds of the bass, reeds, drums, trombone and piano caused Tennie to struggle vocally. But the singer's indefatigable warmth and energy, her humor and acting ability plus her vocal talent, not only allowed her to persist, but to make this a highly entertaining evening. This consummate professional is a must see for cabaret aficionados and also for those learning its demanding discipline."
 

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