Review of Jacey’s Jazz Joint at Blue Strawberry

    On the second Wednesday in March, the Midnight Company presented its second premiere of month at Blue Strawberry. The delightful new show is Jacey’s Jazz Joint, another collaboration of performer Eileen Engel and writer-director Joe Hanrahan.

    In my review of last week’s Movie Music, I wrote, “Engel has a lovely voice and endearing personal charm.” The same is true in Jacey’s Jazz Joint, but the charm is not Engel’s own. She performs the entire show in character as Jacey, the eponymous proprietor of her own jazz joint.

    Jacey promises an evening of “pretty nifty jazz.” She’ll sing some of her favorite songs (some of ours, too, she hopes) and tell “a story or two” that come along free with the songs.

    She learned how to sing jazz, she tells us, “the hard way.” She started out singing in a church choir and moved on to high school musicals. Eventually, she joined bands where she had the full experience of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll.

    She’s finally over that and has moved on to singing favorites, especially love songs. Engel’s Jacey knows how to convey the rapture of growing love as well as the wistfulness of lost love. The standards in show from the Great American songbook include:

    • “From the Start”
    • “Almost Like Being in Love”
    • “When I Fall in Love”
    • “Embraceable You”
    • “Fly Me to the Moon”
    • “This Can’t Be Love”
    • “Misty”
    • “I’m Beginning to See the Light”
    • “Straighten Up and Fly Right”
    • “Cry Me a River”
    • “The Very Thought of You”
    • “Unforgettable”

    The main story of the evening is about how Jacey was able to open her place. The seed money came from the time she spent with a guy named Johnny. She admits the story feels like “a cheap Netflix movie” about “gangsters, guns, [and] deals gone wrong.” In Engel’s portrayal, however, Jacey is master storyteller as well as an enchanting singer.

    Jacey’s Jazz Joint will be presented again on March 27 at 7:30 p.m. Hanrahan and Engel’s earlier show, Movie Music, returns to Blue Strawberry on March 20 at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call at 314-256-1745 or go to

    —Gerry Kowarsky

    Photo by Todd Davis