Myriam Phiro, the internationally recognized French-Canadian enchantress whose alluring voice and swaying body movements emulated the icon she adores, celebrated her new album Becoming Marlene Dietrich at Chelsea Table and Stage. The show featured Hyuna Park and Elias Bailey.
Phiro, dressed in a blue corset, and black fishnets, and draped with a black and blue boa over her bolero jacket, said “Welcome to the cabaret, old chum,” and opened with The Boys in the Back Room. It was one of Dietrich’s standard songs in her repertoire from the 1939 film Destry Rides Again. Phiro sang this vampish tune in a husky, coquettish voice with her delightful French accent.
Phiro is a fountain of historical knowledge regarding Dietrich, the 20th-century sex symbol who ruled screen and cabaret. Dietrich promoted sexual freedom and claimed her own personal style as her image. Dietrich was preeminent in dressing as a man and making her presence glamorous and sexually captivating,
The audience was schooled on Dietrich’s early life; she was a chorus girl and then transitioned into a successful cabaret entertainer and actor. Phiro stated she wore no undergarments, “which garnered her great public attention.” Dietrich was openly bi-sexual, which was acceptable in Germany, yet got married and had a daughter.
Phiro sang Que Reste-T-il, a popular 1942 song with words by Charles Trenet and music by Leo Chauliac and Trenet, also known in English as I Wish You Love. It’s a song of strong emotional longing for love from the past, and Phiro sang first in French, then the English version. Attendees received a thrill when the renowned bass player Elias Bailey played an instrumental solo in the middle of the song, and the loud applause praised the two talented performers.
When Phiro left the stage for a costume change, Hyuna Park rewarded us with a piano solo. She returned in a white top hat and tuxedo with sparkling black shorts and launched into Quand L’Amour Meurt, a song written in 1904 and made popular by Dietrich during her lengthy singing career. Phiro’s version was stirring.
Phiro also gave insight into Dietrich’s multitude of lovers, which included JFK, Gary Cooper, who was her greatest love, Hemingway, and Sinatra, and there was a long list of others, including females, too many to mention. Dietrich got into a feud with Elizabeth Taylor when she had a fling with English actor Michael Wilding, Taylor’s future husband. Phiro enlightened many that Dietrich wrote Taylor an open letter that stated, “You have done enough harm to great men like Burton, Todd, Wilding…” It left us to ponder how many felt the same way about Dietrich.
After a musical interlude of My Blue Heaven, Phiro descended the staircase in a long black gown and fur coat, then described the relationship between famed French singer Edith Piaf, whom Dietrich helped gain confidence on stage. Who can forget Piaf’s rendition of La Vie En Rose, and Phiro performed with perfection as she stated this was one of her favorite songs.
Closing out the show was Lili Marlene, and Phiro remarked, “You’ve been a joy to perform for.” No, the joy was all ours.
“Becoming Marlene Dietrich” at Chelsea Table and Stage October 3, 2023
CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE opens the doors to hospitality, entertainment, and enjoyment every night, featuring state-of-the-art sound and lighting, a 10-seat in-theatre bar, lofted VIP mezzanine for private groups, and table seating for the perfect date night. The ever-changing menu and entertainment schedule means guests never have the same night twice. CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE is located at 152 West 26th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenue), downstairs inside the Hilton New York Fashion District. Purchase tickets at chelseatableandstage.com