"I'm not going to get melodramatic up here," singer Marlena Fontenay intoned breathlessly. This declaration followed hard on the heels of a monologue that included references to the storms of life and the rainbows and the folks along the way who helped her out when she was down. . .

Fontenay's show last night at the Cellar Door was a luxuriously ludicrous musical display filled to the popping point with gushy ballads and gushing stage patter. She grimaced with forced emotion, she paused, her eyes closed, at just the right moments, she cast a sincere gaze from under her curly locks -- in fact, she had all the attributes of a sensitive singer. Except for the sensitivity.

Her leaden piantistic flourishes were the perfect complement for original compositions that seemed to have been inspired by a host of made-for-TV movie soundtracks. Fontensay's voice, while a trifle loud at times, was nonetheless precise and well trained and seemed capable of providing enough drama on its own. Yet, when that voice tried to assert itself -- and it deserved attention -- it was drowned out by the garish stage act.

Marlena Fontenay relies on a persona that is borrowed from an array of famous performers. A pity. Her voice has a distinctive character of its own that's waiting to be heard.