In his introduction, Pyatt opines that there are a limited number of reasons why people are single and offers that the night's performance will take a musical look at several of the more prominent reasons. What becomes clear quite early on is that the thread connecting these stories isn't simply the state of being single. It's the state of having experienced love and come away both wiser and single.
It is, in fact, this mature reflection on the single life that makes the evening work so well. By keeping his focus narrow, Pyatt enables each of the women to bring voice to the emotion, drama and interpretation of her songs. Whether lamenting the man who wouldn't, or couldn't, change his behavior or celebrating the joys of choosing to live alone, the singers embodied the many attitudes and questions that come with being single, but not naïve.
There were songs about women who were tired of being strong, even as they kept up a strong front. There were songs about women who knew better, and songs about women who wished they didn't know quite so much. There were songs from angry women, discarded women, grateful women and heartbroken women. Best of all, there were no songs about wallflowers, secret longings or chaste maidens to be heard.
In addition to Pyatt the evening's performers were Kaitlin Doughty, Cindy Duggan, Alice Kinsella, Jane Abling, Katie Ann Summers and Sarah Keevan, and each woman demonstrated the sensibility of an experienced musical actress with her interpretation.
Doughty and Simmons brought a touch of both anger and bittersweet longing to their songs; Kinsella and Duggan celebrated the lusty joys of, well, lust and living alone. Abling flirted openly with the crowd, daring the audience to flirt back, and Keevan showed the strength of her voice in a delightfully wicked little number that hinted at the hellacious fury of a woman scorned.
The room had a nice quality to it, particularly when the singers were a few feet in front of the piano, and the seating arrangement left enough space for the performers to move freely throughout the audience. Pyatt's arrangements and overall score complemented both the voices and the room; there were a few moments when it seemed the piano might overpower a performance, however, Pyatt reacted quickly and adjusted his accompaniment as needed.
The song selection and presentation order moved at a nice pace while circling around the central theme of being single, and, each song suited each actress's vocal strengths, with a variety of tempo and stylistic changes. The overall tone mixed humor with a dash of bitter here, a touch of bravado there and a lot of independence, everywhere.
I would have liked more of a story connecting the songs, or perhaps a better articulated theme - one that provided context or a framework for each of the performances. I enjoyed the perspective Pyatt chose, and I wanted to know the characters or stories that influenced each song's selection more.
What I appreciated most about the evening Pyatt presented was his pairings of songs and actresses. I heard each woman as both an individual and as a differing note in a single song. I could envision each singer putting her thumbprint on each of the songs performed, reinforcing the commonality of love lost and other (nearly) universal experiences. True to Pyatt's opening promise, the songs and stories dug beneath the surface of being single and explored some of the painful, interesting and powerful emotions that give "single" its real bite.
"All the Single Ladies" was presented in the upstairs piano lounge at Hamburger Mary's, March 25 and 26, 2013. These premier performances were offered as a preview of the show's May 16 opening at the Underground Theater in New York City.