A LITTLE RAIN NEVER HURT NO ONE directed by Mark Christmann, performed by Fides Krucker. Presented by Good Hair Day at Artword (75 Portland). Runs to November 30, Thursday-Saturday 10:30 pm. $20. 416-504-7529. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
an evening spent with fides Krucker is always an extraordinary event. In her new cabaret work, A Little Rain Never Hurt No One (the title comes from a Tom Waits song that opens and closes the show), Krucker wails, croons and seduces the audience with material ranging from Arnold Schoenberg and Rodgers and Hart to Prince and Leonard Cohen.With a smoky voice and amazing vocal technique, she can excite or chill the listener as she turns instantly from intentionally raspy notes to honeyed phrases. My Funny Valentine alternates angry expression and innocent enticement, while she turns Antonio Carlos Jobim's Insensitive into a quiet, low-key monologue, accompanied by pianist Sageev Oore on a tinkly toy piano.
Krucker turns up the blues quotient with Dan Fisher's Good Morning Heartache, plays on an empty olive-oil can as the musical break in The Girl From Ipanema -- to which she adds tricky syncopation -- and bounces vocal dissonances off Oore's piano melody in Cole Porter's Every Time I Say Goodbye. Hell, with her amazing control, she even uses her voice like a kazoo, sliding through the notes of Am I Blue? and finally turning it into a torch song to end all torch songs.
I wish, though, that director Mark Christmann hadn't gone overboard on some of his staging. He uses Oore and percussionist Rick Sacks as dramatic as well as musical backup, which works pretty well. But the director and a quartet of slinky women also float through the performance space, underscoring the lyrics with movement but in fact often distracting from the songs.
Krucker communicates the material. She doesn't need that kind of help.