"And what's more, baby, I can cook!" sang Lea DeLaria as she belted out the brassy, sassy swing number "I Can Cook Too" in last summer's Central Park revival of the 1944 musical On the Town. The sentiment was apt: in this hilarious Leonard Bernstein-Betty Comden-Adolph Green tune, sung by a female cabdriver as she puts the make on a naive sailor in World War II Manhattan, "cook" refers to the singer's musical talents as well as her culinary and sexual ones. And DeLaria, best known for her raucous, stereotype-spoofing comedy--her recent live CD, Box Lunch, shows her dressed like a construction worker, ogling a schoolgirl--is a hell of a singer. A self-described "recovering Catholic" from downstate Belleville, DeLaria spices her monologues with music, wailing on jazz standards by Ellington, Gershwin, and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross with a Merman-size voice that's also surprisingly nimble. On the strength of what Variety called her "star-making turn" in On the Town--which is scheduled for a full-scale Broadway production next year--DeLaria is set for a major crossover as a singer even as her "big dyke" stand-up style continues to make her a favorite in the queer community. Chicago audiences can get a taste of DeLaria's "cooking" when she headlines LesBiGay Radio's "New Year's Eve Extravaganza--Worth 'Coming Out' For"; the bill also includes Chicago R & B singer Vanessa Davis and dance-music diva Valerie James. Wednesday, 8 PM, Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; 312-902-1500 or 888-466-8842. ALBERT WILLIAMS
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.