Tasteful is the word that comes to mind when reflecting on Molly Ringwald's performance of jazz standards and show tunes, at the newly opened Tuning Fork lounge in Vector Arena.
Tasteful but also perhaps surreal, because though Ringwald and her trio were conventionally presented and genuine in their delivery, seeing a teen star of 1980s favourites like 16 Candles and The Breakfast Club, now 45 years old, singing in a small New Zealand venue ... well, it simply seemed unlikely.
But Ringwald was quick to dismantle any expectations of movie diva behaviour, seeming very down to Earth with stage banter about her kids and her family (including her pianist father, Bob Ringwald, who encouraged her love of jazz from an early age), looking confidently at ease conversing with the crowd.
She ranged through 16 songs over nearly two hours, performing most of the tracks from her recent album Except Sometimes, along with a selection of others from the Great American Songbook. A few numbers from various musicals were in the mix, including If I Were A Bell from Guys and Dolls, On The Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady, and a lesser-known song written by Billie Holiday called Don't Explain, which was an early highlight.
Ringwald shined her brightest when she let rip a little. Her version of Fats Waller's Mean To Me was a hit with the crowd, a change from her generally very clean, Broadway-accented delivery. Though her voice isn't going to take anyone's breath away, she is perfectly accomplished. She certainly drew the crowd in sharing the back story to I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes) - it was based on a poignant poem written by a widow named Jane Brown Thompson.
The arrangements, created by her talented pianist Peter Smith, were restrained and elegant, and ably delivered with two local musicians - Tom Dennison on double bass and Frank Gibson on drums. They seemed a well-chosen, memorable ensemble to open this new, intimate Auckland venue.
Who: Molly Ringwald
Where: The Tuning Fork at Vector Arena