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Little Annie's Christmas 2002

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"Truth has walked the plank on the good ship Nasty Queen."

As if to lay a blessing, Little Annie sprinkled water the four corners of the space shortly after stepping onstage. The gesture was appropriate considering the season, yet during this performance, the chanteuse seemed deeply in need of the good graces of a higher power.

In this loose and surprisingly traditional Christmas cabaret show, Little Annie, aka Annie Anxiety -- perhaps best known locally for her long-ago atonal band Asexuals -- mixed standards with original material that were at turns spellbinding and painful to watch.

When grooving on original material with her terrific pianist/collaborator Paul Wallfisch, Little Annie's smoky voice and self-effacing demeanor shone like a star and the songs generated surprising power -- particularly the campy "Nasty Queen" and deeply poetic "Lullabye." However, at other times, with her 4-inch heels and a demeanor that strained to mimic Marlene Dietrich, her act seemed more parody than straight-up show.

Her special guests, with most of whom she sang duets, were a mixed lot as well. The highlights included Christine Donnelly's beautiful English/German rendition of "Silent Night" and her duet with Nicky Paraiso on "White Christmas."

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