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WHY’D YA DO IT?: Tammy Faye Starlite Performs Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English features participation by an all-star backing band that notably includes Barry Reynolds. Reynolds collaborated with Faithfull on the groundbreaking album that was released 40 years ago and had a hand in composing half of the album’s songs including the title track and the notorious “Why’d Ya Do It?” The band also includes acclaimed Hungarian violinist Eszter Balint who has released two critically lauded album of her own and, as an actor, starred in the Jim Jarmusch films Stranger Than Paradise and The Dead Don’t Die. Reynolds and Balint are joined for the run by bass virtuoso Keith Hartel, guitarist Richard Feridun, and David Nagler on keyboard. The show is directed by Michael Schiralli whose credits include “Varla Jean Merman and the Mushroom Heads,” “Scraping the Bottom: The Most Offensive Songs of Jackie Hoffman,” and Tammy Faye’s own acclaimed “Nico Underground.”
Tammy Lang a/k/a Tammy Faye Starlite has come to be one of the brightest stars in the downtown New York scene. The always peripatetic Tammy maintains a busy schedule of performances, guest appearances, and benefits, not only in Manhattan but around the country with appearances in LA, Palm Springs, Chicago, St Louis, and Pittsburgh as well as the farthest reaches of New Jersey and New Hampshire. She’s been a girl on the go-go since her soap opera days when she was a regular on “The Guiding Light” portraying one of two “wacky maids” with Allison Janney.
Tammy Faye’s earlier “Cabaret Marianne” performance piece was cited in The New York Times as a “jaw dropping show.” In his review, Stephen Holden wrote, “Tammy Faye Starlite went all the way: impersonating Marianne Faithfull, rock music’s ‘fallen woman,’ with an uncanny accuracy. Her simulation of Ms. Faithfull’s vocal style and combustible blend of arrogance and scabrous sarcasm only begins to tell the story.” Tammy Faye originally performed Broken English at Lincoln Center and brought it to Joe’s Pub and The Metropolitan Room; later she performed “Marianne Faithfull: Exposed” at Joe’s Pub and McCabe’s in Los Angeles. Thereafter, she took “Cabaret Marianne” on the road to Provincetown, Chicago and St. Louis.
When Marianne Faithfull released Broken English in 1979, she shattered all preconceptions, glass ceilings, walls, and doorways. She claimed her identity and emerged as herself after years of playing the roles of pop princess, rock-royal consort, fallen angel, and tattered waif, roles for which she never auditioned nor truly wanted. Through the power of this album she became what she had always been: passionate, tender, knowing, uncensored, and unashamed. The album, in its unabashed desire and rage and profound excavation of the human spirit, still resonates today. It’s not a relic. It’s a reality.
Tammy Faye Starlite does her utmost to keep the fire aflame and honor the integrity - no, the intensity - of Marianne Faithfull’s groundbreaking album while trying to heed a Marianne dictum: “We fucked up, now we’re free!” In view of this assertion, it’s easy to see why The New York Times’ Stephen Holden proclaimed Tammy Faye’s Marianne Faithfull portrayal to be “easily the most revelatory show I’ve seen..”
“Tammy Faye Starlite is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the album — ’my magnum opus, my gesamtkunstwerk,’ she says, narrating the show as Ms. Faithfull — in “Why’d Ya Do It,” a hybrid of séance, lecture and concert. ...her mastery of Ms. Faithfull’s singing voice is extraordinary, down to the tremolo that punctuates some words like a stifled sob. As for the song that gives the show its title, Ms. Starlite gives it all the spite and bile it requires. - Elisabeth Vincentelli, The New York Times
“..brilliantly inhabits the outsized persona of Marianne Faithfull…. (an) alternately stark and darkly funny performance….” - Steve Futterman, The New Yorker
“Tammy Faye Starlite channels the chanteuse’s languid essence..” (she is) "..a performer who thrives on spontaneity and improvisation." - David Keeps, LA Times
"..a performance artist [with the ability to] slip into someone else's skin." - Robert Christagu/MSN Music