Roger’s Rave Reviews: Sheena Easton, Joan Plowright, and Lily Koppel

by Roger Zotti

Sheena Easton

Does she still have the vocal chops? Does she still look great? Does she still have an I-don’t-take-any-guff-from-anyone attitude? Does she still have a great sense of humor? A resounding YES to each question. Oh, the lady in question is Sheena Easton, and she appeared at Mohegan Sun’s Wolf Den on May 10.

Of course, Sheena, seasoned performer that she is, immediately wins over the audience. After opening with “Celebrate,” she went into the audience to sing, hug, shake hands and sit on a few laps.

During the show, Sheena voiced a few, well, let’s call them Sheena-isms. For example: “We eighties chick singers all sound and look alike, and sometimes I can’t tell us apart. Of course, we’ve changed and that’s okay. I’m a size two now. I used to be a size zero.” Pause. “You know, if you’re familiar with my music, when you look in the mirror … I’m sure you’ve changed, too.” Then she sang “U Got the Look.” Another Sheena-ism: “Some of you might be saying to yourselves, ‘So that’s Sheila E, eh? I thought she played the bongos.’”

Highlights: A fine rendition of “We’ve Got Tonight” with Philip Ingram. (Back in the eighties, she performed it with the weak-voiced, barely mediocre Kenny Rogers. Her rendition with Philip was much better.) There was the classic “Strut,” which Sheena did with plenty of attitude: “Come on baby, what you takin’me for?/ Strut, pout, cut it out, all takin’ and no givin’/ Watch me baby while I walk out the door.” And my favorite Sheena hit from one of her first albums, and which she said is largely autobiographical: “Almost Over You” (“I saw an old friend of ours today/…Heard you’ve been making the rounds round here/ While I’ve been trying to make tears disappear.” Then we learn the singer is getting over her heartbreak: “…so when you come back around/ after painting the town/ you’ll see I’m almost over you.”

Joan Plowright and “Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont”

Some issues ago, I said actor Ed Harris should receive an award for consistently good performances. Well, include British actress Dame Joan Plowright in that category. That she’s never less than stellar is proved by her work in Dan Ireland’s “Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont” (2005). The film was adapted from British writer Elizabeth Taylor’s short story; Ruth Sacks wrote the screenplay.

The key scene occurs when co-star Rupert Friend’s character, Ludovic Meyer, an aspiring writer, asks Mrs. Palfrey what her favorite song is, and she says it’s “For All We Know.” She positive, though, he’s too young to be familiar with it. He pauses and then begins playing it on his guitar and singing. Close up of Joan’s character. She doesn’t say a word but we know precisely what she’s thinking and feeling: Her tears and expression take us back to another time in her life, a younger time. To do that, so naturally, so convincingly, is indeed the mark of a superior actress.

Author Lily Koppel at Waterford Public Library

Lily Koppel, author of “The Red Leather Diary” (HarperCollins), will appear June 2, 7-9 p.m., at the Waterford Public Library, 49 Rope Ferry Road, Waterford. Ms. Koppel, who writes for “The New York Times” and other publications, found a diary one morning, a few years ago, in a dumpster outside her apartment in New York’s Upper West Side. It was not opened since the 1930s. Written by Florence Wolfson Howitt, now in her nineties, the entries depicted life in New York City from 1929-1934. For Lily Koppel it was like discovering a time capsule – a place and time that no longer exists.