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Meg Flather: Press/Blogs

When I heard that Meg Flather was staging a show called Home Shopping Diva—playing off her other career as a long-time cosmetics salesperson in department stores and on television—I was concerned about whether I would be able to buy what she would be selling. I had recently reviewed Champagne Pam’s Dog-Walking Diva show (at the same venue) and while I appreciated Pam’s talent, the heavy emphasis on doggie songs and lyrics detracted from an otherwise wonderful performance. And although I enjoy shopping more than the average guy (even when my daughter is abusing my credit cards), I prayed to the cabaret gods (who hopefully weren’t being distracted with end-of-the-world plans) that I would not be subjected to a set devoted to blatant consumerism.

Those fears were immediately allayed when Flather—looking like a lovely TV host in a black sleeveless top with black pants—opened with the Burt Bacharach/Hal David hit “I Say a Little Prayer,” which felt like getting deliciously spritzed with perfume by the attractive sales lady in the cosmetics department. After climaxing “Prayer” on a bit of a falsetto, she revealed the first hint of the self-deprecating sense of humor that would color the night. “The perimenopause helped me hit that note.” She would hit all the right notes for the rest of the show.

Flather has been in the cosmetics sales game for more than two decades and is clearly passionate about her work. But she also possesses a healthy perspective that allows her to make fun of herself and the whole home-shopping culture. Her between-songs script— which took the audience on a trip from a Clinique counter at Bloomindale’s to her selling Moroccan mud on QVC at 6 a.m. to her ten years on Canadian home shopping TV— featured an early riff as a saleswoman pushing product like an angry, possessed dominatrix in a white lab coat. Such cheeky irony was reinforced when she sang “Keep Young and Beautiful” (a Harry Warren/Al Dubin song sung by a blackfaced Eddie Cantor in the 1933 film Roman Scandals), with the obnoxious rejoinder, “. . . if you want to be loved.” Flather delivered the song with a subtle rubato reminiscent of the singers of the ’30s.

Her true vocal persona emerged in her poignant folk ballad “Calling You” (written with her drummer John Mettam), about being on location in Australia and missing a loved one back home. Flather’s songwriting style and soothing, expressive and effortless alto is reminiscent of many of her singer-songwriters influences—Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Suzanne Vega, and Annie Lenox, among others. On another Flather/Mettam tune, the honky tonk-sounding “A Song of Roses” (“You’re either given the roses or you grow your own”), Meg channeled a vintage Patsy Cline, complete with an audience sing-along that was helped along by Mettam’s drums, her pianist Paul Greenwood and bass guitarist/husband Jamie Rogers. After the lovely story song “Love [is for sale tonight] at the Five and Dime” (Nanci Griffith), she told about being recruited for Yves St. Laurent at Bergdorf Goodman. By now it was clear that one of the show’s strengths was Meg’s ability to weave her career stories seamlessly between songs that weren’t necessarily about retailing or TV product sales. She followed her St. Laurent tale with “The French Song” (Don Tucker), a clever number in which the entire lyric is disembodied French words and phrases linked together. Flather then did a lovely job on “Back When We Were Beautiful” (Matraca Berg), a wistful ballad sung from the point of view of an aging beauty, but even more haunting were the maternal “Hush, Hush, Hush” (Paula Cole) connected to her own “I Will Wait for You,” which represented that period during her performing and retail life when “all the beautiful boys started to disappear from AIDS.”

When one decides to pursue a combined career in musical theater, cabaret, and sales, disappointment and rejection are facts of life, and one is compelled to keep things in perspective. Meg Flather obviously feels and knows that, which is what made her final song, “Love Is All That Matters” (written with Vicki Genfan), even more resonant. Meg may not always get a home shopping viewer to order the concealer, but as a cabaret performer, she definitely closed the sale.

Stephen Hanks
Cabaret Scenes
May 19, 2011
www.cabaretscenes.org

"The lessons Flather learned are universal, so even if you’re not interested in the arts or fashion industry, readers will find themselves being able to relate to her trials and tribulations...If you’re looking for a heartwarming and inspirational memoir to keep you motivated when the winter blues hit, you’ll enjoy Flather's entertaining novel."

Amanda Ferris - The Absolute Magazine (Dec 21, 2014)

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