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