This review of Rita Ellis Hammer at Eighty Eight's was written by Andrew Martin and appeared in Volume I, Issue 3 (January, 1998) of Applause! Applause! published by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens.
Rita Ellis Hammer
Eighty Eight's (228 West 10th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 9/18/97 at 8 p.m.
In the last four seasons since her debut at Danny's Skylight Room, Rita Ellis Hammer has emerged as a cabaret songstress to be reckoned with. Changes in musical directors and other staff have far from left their toll on the redoubtable Ms. Hammer, who still bursts onto any cabaret stage she inhabits and infuses the assembled crowd with unending vocal excitement. Not surprisingly, considering Hammer's history, a child star in her own right, with appearances on seemingly hundreds of kiddie shows on New York City radio and the then-newly-formed medium of television, Hammer fell easily into local fame as a featured singer at the famed Copacabana on East 60th Street and on 1950's TV's "The Galen Drake Show", wonderful training ground for a lady who'd later take the cabaret scene by storm.
With sensational pianist Paul Katz as her partner in crime, Hammer's latest evening of movie music is outstanding to say the least. Her selection of standards is topped deliciously by autobiographical exploits (and her story about Zippy the Chimp and legendary TV producer Don Appel is unto itself worth the price of admission!). To say any more would be to give away a gold mine. Suffice to suggest that when next Rita Ellis Hammer graces the stage of your friendly neighborhood cabaret, to say she's merely worth catching would be the understatement of the year!