Review: Wendy-Lane Bailey’s “Five Minutes: Snapshots in Time”

November 27, 2021 | By

Wendy-Lane Bailey, the beautiful and enigmatic singer/producer, took centerstage as a performer at United Solo Festival this year with her work, Five Minutes: Snapshots in Time. The show was directed by Omar Sangare who is the founder and artistic director of the festival. Described as a “musical examination of the turning points that transform your life into an unexpected journey,” the repertoire of Five Minutes: Snapshots in Time is comprised largely of contemporary pop music. There are songs by Gretchen Peters, Michele Brourman with Amanda McBroom or Karen Gottlieb,  and compositions by Cole Porter, Joni Mitchell, Anne Caldwell and Jerome Kern, and Leonard Cohen. Most arrangements are by Michele Brourman, Brourman with Stephen Oberhoff, and two arrangements by the late Rick Jensen. 

Wendy-Lane Bailey (Photo: Omar Sangare)

I describe Bailey as enigmatic, as her economy in the staging and delivery of the show was quite dramatically stark. She worked without any patter or props except a gorgeous wrap, using only the set wall and floor for staging places. If you’re Wendy-Lane Bailey’s social media friend, you know she has a seemingly vast wardrobe of spectacular vintage clothing, and her ultra-feminine and sleek black dress fit her lithe frame like a glove. 

Each of the songs in the set was carefully chosen, and I’m confident that her goal was to deliver an emotional theatrical experience threaded by the central theme of moments in time that change our lives in seconds, minutes, or a weekend. The moments in time Bailey chose are all about love: longing, love lost, second chances, fantasy, or love that is not so equally felt. The lyricists are masterful, and many of the songs are filled with rich imagery, as in The Matador (Gretchen Peters, arrangements by Jensen), and the songs of wishful thinking including Water into Wine (Gretchen Peters, arrangements by Jensen), and Night Ride Home (Joni Mitchell, arrangements by Brourman/Oberhoff). Bailey is up to the task of rendering each song, without question, even if the show doesn’t quite deliver on the theme which I feel was hampered by a lack of either a stronger storyline—which could come in some brief patter or by varying the subject matter. There are many moments in time that change our lives, having nothing to do with romantic love. Of course, this was a choice by the artist.

Wendy-Lane Bailey compiled a gorgeous collection of songs artfully delivered, though for me, the stated theme wasn’t quite enough to provide the theatrical experience we’ve come to expect from a solo work.

(Editor’s note and full disclosure: Wendy-Lane Bailey is a BistroAwards.com contributor and has been the assistant producer of the Bistro Awards gala evening for the past six years.

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Presented as part of United Solo Festival on November 14, 2021. 

Category: News / Reviews / Commentary, Reviews

About the Author ()

Though now Betsyann Faiella is known in New York primarily as a publicist, she came to that profession from two previous careers that contributed to her love of promoting creative people: as a working singer and as a media producer. She made her cabaret debut at the legendary Reno Sweeney. She was the lead singer in a band with Lewis Friedman, the impresario of both Reno Sweeney and s.n.a.f.u. Later she performed in such other iconic venues as Birdland, Blue Note, the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, and Ronnie Scott's in London. She appeared in concert with jazz legends Hank Jones and Paul Smith and performed at arts centers and universities around the country.

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