Who would have thought that 80’s brat packer Molly Ringwald can sing? And boy, can she.
Ringwald, best known for her roles as a lovesick teenager in several John Hughes films like Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles, rolled off more than a dozen jazz numbers in a 90 minute long set on Friday night at the Newmark Theatre in Portland that featured many tracks from her debut album Except Sometimes.
Backed by a jazz quartet, Ringwald’s voice was elegant and smooth with a noticeably strong pop presence. She wasted no time after taking the stage immediately jumping into her first song. She wore a knee length, black gown, with black high heels, sported her cropped do a la Sixteen Candles, and looked, well, like Molly Ringwald, albeit just a bit older.
Ringwald’s voice was strong throughout from lower tempo fare like “Exactly Like You” and “The Very Thought of You” to the more uptempo waltz of “I’ll Take Romance” and “Pick Yourself Up.” She also performed several songs best known on Broadway like Westside Story’s “I feel Pretty” which landed her a rousing applause, “If Were a Bell” from Guys and Dolls, and My Fair Lady’s “On the Street Where You Live”
Ringwald spoke often, bantering with the audience a bit and introduced most of the songs with some background. Before starting Billie Holiday’s “Don’t Explain” Ringwald explained she has an affinity for people that are known for something else, an obvious nod to her acting days.
She and her band which consisted of a piano, percussion, bass and saxophone played well together and Ringwald often gave those on stage with her their props when due, like Allen Mezquida who starred on the saxophone and pianist Peter Smith who also doubles as her musical director. Even Clayton Cameron got to break out a bit from the relaxed tap-and-brush and busted out a solid drum solo.
She may be one of the greatest teen stars of all time, but Ringwald got her start in jazz. Her father Robert Ringwald is a traditional jazz singer and daughter Molly started singing at a young age. Her rendition of Fats Waller’s “Mean to Me” was another crowd favorite.
Ringwald joked about whether or not to do an actual encore and poked a bit of fun at the traditional leave the stage for a few minutes while the audience applauses, before returning for one last song. She offered to do just that but Ringwald and the audience were more than content to keep her on stage minus the theatrics.
And, not too ironically, she closed with her jazz rendition of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” the hit song from “The Breakfast Club” and the sound track to the life of anyone who grew up in the 1980s watching the teenage of version of who is now an all grown up jazz singer.