A Head Trip That Gets Lost Along the Way

By BART GREENBERG****Irenka Jakubiak has an interesting story to tell. And she has an interesting format for telling it. Unfortunately, her show at The Triad on November 16, Head Trip: My Travels with Edith Head lacked organization and focus to maximize its effectiveness.

Jakubiak, who wanted to be a clothing designer, found herself as an assistant and traveling companion to the iconic Hollywood costume designer Edith Head. This is certainly a great basis for a cabaret show, especially since the bubbly performer interwove her tales with melodies from films that Head designed (though some of song choices are a bit of a stretch – does anyone really recall “Stormy Weather” being played in All About Eve?).

The performer has abundant charm and a pleasant singing voice, but the program lacked focus. Was it supposed to be about herself? About the consummate costume designer? Or about their impact on each other? Telling the story out of sequence didn’t help matters. On the other hand, using a Betty Hutton number called “The Sewing Machine” (Frank Loesser) as a reccurring theme was very clever.

Some of the individual stories were certainly amusing, such as the designer’s amazing storage closet, virtually a disorganized museum of film history. And the singer has great fun with songs such as “A Guy What Takes His Time” (Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin) and “A House Is Not a Home” (Burt Bacharach and Hal David). But these remain individual moments because the program has not coalesced.

Providing musical support were David Gaines and Hilliard GreeneGretchen Reinhagen directed. Hopefully, these talented people can revisit the material and strengthen the story line for future productions.