Send in the Clowns…or Cleo Laine

Written by: Tyler Martins
There is nothing like a dame. Truer words have never been spoken, at least when it comes to Dame Cleo Laine. Dame Cleo is a world renowned Grammy Winning recording artist and actress. Having recorded over 100 albums, Laine is most well known for her jazzy contralto and three octave range. She starred as Julie in West End’s SHOW BOAT, Desiree in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC and she originated the role of Princess Puffer on Broadway in DROOD. She is no stranger to Sondheim, having a critically acclaimed run in Los Angeles as the Witch in INTO THE WOODS. In 1988, Cleo Laine recorded an entire album dedicated to Sondheim songs. Some of those songs she recorded were lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to receive music videos. She introduced Sondheim to a large group of people, and these music videos were the first look into Sondheim. While it is fantastic to have such a widely known recording artist tackle the Sondheim songbook (and especially one with such a beautiful voice), one has to ask: what exactly was Cleo Laine thinking when she did these music videos?

Send in the Clowns:

“Where are the clowns?” With her eyes bulging out like that, it’s obvious they’re here. Regardless, a beautiful interpretation…if you close your eyes.

Losing My Mind:

“The sun comes up…” We get to see a sunrise.
“The coffee cup….” We see Cleo with a coffee cup in hand.
This is so bad, it rivals the Cardboard trees shown when Glee sang “As If We Never Said Goodbye.”

Everybody Says Don’t:

“Don’t skate on the ice…” A video clip of skaters…skating on the ice! Gosh, Dame Cleo is so imaginative.

Not While I’m Around:

Okay, so this one isn’t so bad. No literal imagery or video clips of “demons.” Besides the occasional distracting eye-bulge and gaping mouth, a beautiful rendition.

Disclaimer: I love Dame Cleo Laine, but these videos are just bizarre.


2 thoughts on “Send in the Clowns…or Cleo Laine

  1. First things first, the album CLEO SINGS SONDHEIM was released in 1988, not 1998. Second, though you claim to love the Dame and not her videos, I’d think you’d spend your time celebrating a 61 year recording career, a music legend in multiple genres, and an acclaimed stage actress as your opening suggests. Instead, you are snarky, disrespectful and all with a cleverness that sadly shows your age and not your wit. Finally, in GLEE, the song “As If We Never Said Goodbye” was sung by a high school student returning to his high school stage, so naturally there would be “cardboard trees” in the background. Perhaps it was a bit too literal, but the Broadway production also featured stage hands carrying around “cardboard” scenery, which Norma Desmond acknowledges as she looks around at all that has and has not changed in her beloved movie set and in her life. Your other writings have always shown a smart, witty and reverent love for theatre, and are certainly a reason to return to this blog to hear what you have to say. I hope this disappointing foray into undergraduate, immature and silly self-indulgence is more of a blip than a sign of things to come.

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