Mary Travers, appearing at the Cellar Door through Saturday, flirted with the image of being a pop chanteuse even in her folk-revival heyday with Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey.It's a tendency that has become more pronounced -- and increasingly unbearable -- as she has charted a solo career.
Her nasal timbre and awkward phrasing do little for a repertoire consisting almost entirely of pop ablum, heavy on weepy ballads cluttered with cliches. Travers reminds us on the one hand that John Denver has written some pretty songs but also just how stupid and insincere a song like "500 Miles" really was. Travers was further bogged down by lethargic arrangements. Her pianist, Russ Walden, has a beautiful voice, but he was heard only once in the course of the vening.
And Travers talked . . . far too much. Mark Russell she's not. She came across as a tourist with a compulsion to jump into the conversation with stimulated Washington wit. She landed flat.
Bob Dubac opened the show with his own nonstop version of a thousand and one party jokes, ranging from slow motion juggling, sleight of hand and sleight of audience. Directing jibes at a barely resisting audience, Dubac did the only thing a good comedian can. He left them laughing.