Following her triumphant run at the Kennedy Center last fall, Argentine singer Nacha Guevara last night brought her dazzling cabaret show to the more intimate confines of Charlie's, where she will be through Sunday.
A tall, thin woman crowned with bright orange curls, Guevara delivered an international musical theater repertoire with the unassailable authority of a Judy Garland. She defined characters with her long, plastic body and her resonant actress' voice. She then filled out those characters with a marvelous mezzo-soprano voice that delicately understated some passages but belted home the climaxes with overwhelming power.
A stirring anthemic march was supplied by her husband and nonstop piano accompanist, Alberto Favero. Favero, who was always supportive but never obtrusive, joined her for a hilarious vocal duet on Tom Lehrer's wicked romantic parody "When You're Old and Gray." Guevara comically exaggerated the cabaret cliche's not only with her super-sweet singing but also with her vamp postures on the bar stool.
In the end, though, Guevara simply transcended show music's boundaries with tour de force versions of Latin American art songs: "Te Quiero" by Uraguyan poet Mario Benedetti and "Simple Verses" by Cuban poet Jose' Marti.
Guevara and Favero, exiled from their homeland for nine years, brought a thrilling passion to these progessive visions for their hemisphere.