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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pia with a Z

Buddy Beaverhausen loves his divas. And is there any so underrated as Pia Zadora? At one point a laughing stock thanks to a cruel Steve Allen remark at Night of 1000 Stars, she now has the last laugh in her show, Pia Reloaded, basically a workshop for her upcoming Vegas act, stage directed by the legendary Bob Esty. It was performed at the intimate venue, the Metropolitan Room, in Chelsea.

Although her son suggested she call her act The Bitch Is Back (Pia has three kids), under any title, the show would be a smash!

I arrived a little early and was about to return from the club's men's room, climbing the narrow stairs, from basement level, when the diva herself appeared at the top in her wedgies.  "Do you mind if I come down first?" she asked. Well, I never contest a diva!

Although I meant to request a song set for press at show's end, Pia opened with what seemed like a very personalized number called "Alive." She was in great voice from the get-go and will dispel ideas anyone might have about her being a bantamweight singer. She is a belter, babies! A vocal powerhouse who could put Liza (in her prime) to shame.

Pia & Beaverhausen
I'm from Jersey, she's from Jersey (Hoboken) and it was fellow Hobokenite and fan, Frank Sinatra, who steered her in the direction of classic pop standards that she puts across with emotion and dynamism. "A lot of women opened for Frank," Pia said as part of her delightful patter. "But I opened for him in concert!"

Two seats from stage right, Nick Lion and I were greeted by the onstage Ms Zadora (and we adored huh!) who skillfully engaged the full house by speaking to us individually or creating a conga line when she covered "C'est Si Bon."  She told Nick she adored his necklace and pointed out how she loved my shirt. Little things mean a lot.

American songbook classics like "The Man Who Got Away" and "Cry Me a River" were interpreted in fresh, emotionally raw and vocally vigorous style. Her stage presence, partly thanks to Bob Esty's staging, was impeccable.

The projected images behind her opened up the performance, with a wonderful five-man band backing her up, in the small but cozy cabaret.

In the distance: Bob directing Pia @ rehearsal
Bob Esty & I
But Pia truly saved the best for last; her two encore numbers. Pia went total opera-diva soprano with a wonderfully flawless "O, Solo Mio" (yes, she is opera-trained) that blew us all away before singing "I Am What I Am," a heartfelt rendition that brought the house down for the final time that day.

Nick and I met both Pia and Bob Esty after the show before heading home. But we were invited to Vegas to check out the act on a bigger stage, and so it's Vegas or Bust this autumn for us!

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